Last Screening: Moliere
A French film from a few years ago. A period piece, full costume and all. If you’re already a fan of the great French playwright and actor, then this is a gimme. If you love dry witty 17th Century salon repartee’ and double entendre — where one’s brain garnered more merit in society than mere beauty, or Shakespearean comedy’s twists and turns then you’ll easily find this film a feast for your ears as well as eyes.
For me it was a bittersweet experience throughout. A dualistic reaction swirled within me, on the one hand pure enjoyment as an observer, and on the other a subtle gnawing at my insides by the loss of the libertine lifestyle i so enjoyed as a single man playing the part of artist above all else in a free world. I am not one to believe in platitudes, let alone recite them, but there is something to ponder about the idea that for every path toward one form of happiness another must be forsaken. Though I do not wholeheartedly believe it to be true, I get the feeling that it’s an idea with merit.
The irony seeps so heavy from even these very thoughts like maple from a sapling, for it is true, even here, in these Diaries where I have spent more than ten years pouring out every thought and feeling I’ve ever had — that I now feel a strong reluctance to do so any longer. Talk about double entendre. This grand irony perching its head above ground through the very format I am using to explore it. Truth be told this has been the case for a few years now. Being married it is nearly impossible. More than that, it would be unfit, unfair, inappropriate. And that’s just the matter of these Diaries. I now understand why as a writer, as artists, we must find other ways to get our truths across without such blatancy that these Diary posts once afforded me. The truths that we are compelled to communicate, to let out, to unleash, still exist; they are in that regard existential. It is an existential need, as vital to the living organism of artistry within as blood or clean air is to the body that houses it.
So rather than lay it bare out on the line as was once so easy here, these Diaries have had to transform into a more innocuous form of prose, less revealing, less personal, hopefully no less engaging or powerful; but more worldly and culturally relevant. The real meat of the personal nature of things must be delivered through other means artistic, such as song or works of fiction or poetry. And indeed we are already in the process of that. It will obviously not be as readily or easily available for consumption as the Diaries once were, but I don’t believe that I am capable of ridding myself of the need to let loose with the truths that illuminate our life while here, the very stuff that gives us cause to remain here, any more than I am capable of living without food or water.
There is much to be gained from a life well contented in marriage and family. More so at least for me than I believe I would have gleaned from continuing the life of a bachelor any longer. But perhaps I say that only because I allowed myself decades to enjoy bachelorhood, an enjoyment I would recommend anyone partake with gusto and all their will and might and relish wholeheartedly before succumbing to that next stage of nuptials and commitment, fidelity and trust beyond measure with another. But if one thinks that they can at the same time walk through the world and among the masses naked open and sincere, baring all and more, and still keep said marriage content, they are kidding themselves. It It would be a cruel practice and require a slow letting go of all respect to even attempt. One that would quickly suck the love out of the heart of the other and leave in its place a profound bitterness.
Think Woody Allen and how he never stopped to consider how his showing his cards to the entire world, every nuanced passing whim of his heart and mind, with no regard for his girlfriends or wives. The joke I always observed was that if you are married to Woody Allen and find him uncommunicative, wondering how he feels about you, don’t ask him, just watch his next movie. He’s telling you how he feels right there. He just never possessed the courage, nor respect or chivalry, to tell you himself and in person. I observed this heartless cruelty in the lives of artists since I was a boy, a cold willingness to put their art above the feelings and trust of their lovers. And for a long time, before I matured, I was under the illusion that this was just a necessary component of being a true artist, a truly great artist. But as with many things we play with in our imagination as children this was an illusion, and an unnecessary one.
Any one who uses art or being an artist to treat those who love and trust them the most poorly has simply failed to grow up. They are no more or less an artist because of it. Their art will never be the better for it, their heart will never allow it. The heart longs for only one thing: truth. Which is why we believe that love is the primary thing we long for the most, for love is the most truthful thing we can experience here. Love feels good. But underneath that good feeling is the purity and purpose that only truth can provide. Raw vulnerable untouched unstoried unscathed untainted just free. The closer we get to it, the more pure we become, a never ending and always evolving metamorphosis into something more pure, more truthful and honest. A freedom like no other. And from that place real art can be created like no other, one that can truly transcend, not just the man himself, or the time and place from which he creates, but from the common temporality of human beingness itself. Timeless art is truth in its purest form, even in fiction.
So it takes a subtle discretion, at least for an artist, to pull it off, bridging the life of the contented with the life of restlessness angst and passion. The art must be disguised, though still be true. It must take on a life of its own, one that is separate from its creator, so the artist is free to live the life he or she is equally entitled to (besides that of an artist), a simple normal contented life of ease and struggle, pleasure and pain, challenges and accomplishments, as any other on earth is. We may not get to play Moliere forever, but I dare say life would be boring if we did; and if we are lucky, we allowed ourselves plenty of years in our youth to do so. There is more to being human than reckless abandon for the sake of the genius of creation. Nobler goals. There is the challenge to master the art of living. Most artists never get a chance to experience that side of the coin. Giving into the myths and illusions we begin to harbor in our youth. But I for one am going to try, while at the same time producing some of the best art and works, in whatever shape or form they happen to come at me in, of my life.