5.13.2005

An Aside.

It is sometimes asked of me, why I play so solitary and misanthropic a course when there is much I do value and hope for in the company of others.

To tell you the truth, it is as much a point of pride as anything else. I'm uncomfortable in settings where I have nothing to bring to the table; it highlights how out-of-place, how unintended my presence seems. There is so very little in my personal life which I can relate to the experiences of those around me; you try finding peers who happen to have 27 other cousins in their generation, or families riddled with rice farmers, poisonous doctors, Army officers, dying nurses, bankrupt accountants...

So in many ways, and especially when I was younger, Theatre represented a plausible excuse for indulging in the company of others. Usefully so, even. Personal identities are superfluous to the work at hand. Improvised camaraderie and ingenuity are affectionately regarded.

Now that I'm a "Grown-Up", as it were, things are a bit more complicated, as they tend to be. Theatre exerts as much of a misanthropic influence on my behavior as my family does. I've been emotionally trained to regard the people I respect and admire as ephemeral, here in this cast today, on the other side of the country tommorrow. I, too, have a penchant for being distant from those who may seem to want me around, although in truth I would be surprised if anyone falls within that category, given my strange construction. (Me: "Oooh, look, guys! It tastes like applesauce!" Them, whispering: "Just back away slowly, and try not to make eye contact with it." "Woah. He's turning pink.")

Today, while cleaning, I came across an old notepad in which were kept rough drafts of letters from back when I used to write rough drafts of letters. (It seems I once was blessed with substantially more time than I am these days.) And while I could readily recognize the strange and self-absorbed pogue behind the inkstained lines, there was much that was fresh and nearly forgotten, that I never realized I'd left behind. I'm saddened to think that my self of four years ago was much more open, much more impulsive and rash, yet also more expressive and somehow richer, than the self I see in my words now. There was simply more to me then, than there is now.

In this regard am I apprehensive of growing older. I worry that the loss of what I describe above is the effect of a kind of slow decay, like bread left to grow stale on an uncovered shelf.

But a Remembrance of Things Past I am not. I emphatically espouse the principle that my best days are always ahead of me, irregardless of whether or not they actually come to pass. It is in placing the emphasis of one's memories as a predicate of what may come that their greatest potential is realized. These nagging doubts are what they are, the distractions of an honest mind. Be that as it may.

best,

paulmonsterstalebreadcrust

PS--By the way, some of you Anonymous Post-ers out there, I have no idea if you're laughing with me or at me. I don't really mind either way, I just want you to know I have no idea what your deal is. Yes, yes, I'm silly that way, I know, whatever. That's all. Carry on.

14 comments:

Savtadotty said...

Growing older can also free you and allow you to be more yourself, regardless of how others respond. It's all up to what you want and need...not the audience. (That's my Toughlove speech.)

La Foi said...

I can certainly relate to the fear of growing harder and more closed off as you age. The people I admire most who are older than me have tried to remain open to the new, which doesn't mean they embrace everything wide-eyed as they did in their youth: it's a more conscious, considered embracing of the fullness around you. And I think it can be done, it's just hard.

Also, Paul, I saw your play last night. Much to commend about it. I liked the part where the town takes down the scaffolding and turns against him. Tried to talk to you afterwards but you were nowhere to be found... those dang misanthropic tendencies I suppose....

:) Anyway, congratulations.

F.

Sallyacious said...

I see myself as becoming more distilled as I get older. All of the extraneous has been sanded off or sluffed, leaving the vibrant core.

paulmonster said...

Savtadotty: Thanks for the Tough Love. I suppose I'm terrified of who I am in many ways, and much of these toilings stem from an acute desire NOT to face myself. Hum. Yeah, I should work on that...

Le Foi: Thanks for coming to see Fuente, and for your thoughts on aging. You're right, conscious consideration is fucking hard. Much easier to just jump into things without thinking them through (i.e., what this summer is shaping up to be for me). Hum. Yeah, I should work on that, too...

The collapsing scaffolding business was a lot of fun, yes. There are a lot of moments in that show that I'd wished I could have seen from the audience, the scaffolding collapse being at the top of that list, but such is our lot. I'm sorry I wasn't able to return the favor and see "Mysteries" while it was running.

Sallyacious: I do like the imagery; I would love to shuffle off this dross to reveal something luminous and true. But I'm too Baroque for that, I think. How do you pare down the Baldachino? Oh, all right, I'll work on it...

Anonymous said...

ooooh Paul. "Laughing?" "At" or "With?" Verb, Adverb? You presume much, my young apprentice.

Racer X said...

24 and "growing older?"

Please.

The Lioness said...

Paul, I'll say it again: I'm crazy abt you, you're brill! :DDD

And I can read you today so I'll make the most of it.

Would it help if I said 24 is a bloody bitch? And that it gets better? And that I envy Le Foi so much, for she got to see you act? As someone would say, you're Splendid. No Tough Love here, just tenderness.

Racer X, :PPP

(GO.TIDY.THE.DESK)

racer X said...

"There is so very little in my personal life which I can relate to the experiences of those around me; you try finding peers who happen to have 27 other cousins in their generation, or families riddled with rice farmers, poisonous doctors, Army officers, dying nurses, bankrupt accountants..."
-- This is the statement of a young person. Speaking from roughly 2x (as I gather) your age, I can tell you that you are not as unique as you suppose you are...We all find some excuse to protect ourselves from being truly open to human intimacy. Perhaps your self-styled, "I'm so different!" misanthropy is your means to that end. Good luck.

paulmonster said...

Racer X: Thanks for the comment. A proud, unshakeably ambitious part of me sits up and says, "Of Course I'm Every Bit As Unique As I Suppose I Am."--But I believe I understand your point. Misanthropy is certainly my means to an end in this context. I just want to have my cake and eat it, too, is all. (They had cake back in your day, right, old-timer?)

Lioness: The Desk is glowering at me. Last night, I staggered home and set down a handful of candy bars for the next day's ride. I woke up this morning to find shredded wrappers. I'd tidy it up, as you suggest, except I've run out of morphine and my Hazmat gear got all torn up from the last time I attempted to tame this beast.
And Le Foi can tell you that seeing me act isn't really that big of a deal. But thank-you for the kind words. The tenderness is mutual, I assure you.

La Foi said...

I most certainly will not tell Lioness that watching you perform is no big deal. Lioness, Paul is a talented and committed actor. You heard the story of him performing as Elijah/Bear in Warsaw to a ring of appreciative apartment dwellers shouting their approval. That is no small thing. It stands out as one of my favorite moments in theatre, as well. You should try and get him a gig in Portugal, so you can see for yourself.

La Foi said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
racer X said...

There was lots of cake, back in the day, and, taken as a whole, it was decidedly better than it is now.

The Lioness said...

Le foi, I know, he didn't fool me for a second. Not even a tiny one.

And Paul, if you were closer I'd come round and do it for you. O love - and I absolutely mean LOVE - to organise desks, closets, folders, cupboards - LOVE IT! I've helped many of my friends already. Sadly, they show a tendencey to slip later on, the brutes. But they live in bliss for a while.

paulmonster said...

Le Foi, Thanks. Thanks for not mentioning the parts where I almost set you on fire, or when I kept forgetting to put on that stupid little demon mask. But seriously, Thanks.

Racer X: Yeah, this was back when they had good old-fashioned draught horses to power the flour-mills, I suppose. Mmmm. Cake... [eyes glaze over, scratches belly, drools.]

Lioness: Oh, but you see, I neglected to mention that my Desk, and really much of my house, are well inundated with over 30 boxes' worth of books. Beautiful books. Big, squawking, ornery books. Philosophy, literature, drama, poetry, history, sciences, letters, essays, travelogues, incunabula. Dunsany and Gaiman and Hugo and Shakespeare and LeGuin and Sophocles and McEwan and Roy and Gibson and Bishop and Donne and Herbert and--. Most of whom had been packed away for the better part of the past four years. And now, at long last, they've been loosed into the world again. Books that defy all attempts of even this diligent Librarian's organizational powers. And I organize books for a living, my friend.

Every time I sit down to deal with these snaggle-toothed monsters, I get lost in my beautiful books, and the hours rush past, stars wheel overhead, morning steps up and hits me on my pate because here I'm late again. Speaking of which...