07 September, 2004

Yes, That.

...With the blink of an eye you finally see the light....

I hadn't planned to post today, because I am catching up on my Real Life- yes, I do have one, and it includes plans for Washing My Car, YES, in my bikini,(if the neighbors are lucky; starkers if I'm feeling nasty). If the weather holds, I'm heading To The Beach tomorrow and Thursday, so I'm catching up on some reading and I come across this, posted by my second-favorite genius, Tim Kreider.

When I got home I had a message on my answering machine from my beloved groupie Alicia, who’d called on her way to Burning Man just to tell me she loved me in case "anything happened" to her there. She seemed to feel the same fatalistic dread about Burning Man that I had about the R.N.C. I've been to Burning Man before, and in fact they felt similar, in some ways; by the end of every day there you were so exhausted and overloaded with impressions that you could hardly remember what had happened that day or keep it all straight. I imagine that Alicia and I had very different experiences at our chosen destinations (for example, there was not much likelihood of my getting fisted, unless it was by the N.Y.P.D.), but it's possible that they are both equally meaningless events. The sorts of West-Coast ecstasy techies who go to Burning Man like to talk about it in utopian terms, but basically it's a lot of people doing drugs and having sex and feeling self-congratulatory about it in the desert. The R.N.C. was a lot of people waving signs and shouting slogans and feeling self-congratulatory about it in the city, with a rejuvenating dose of pure hate thrown in to supercharge things. Ultimately, they're both theater. Which is fine. Theater can be diverting and cathartic and sometimes even edifying. But what matters about theater is not so much what happens onstage as what you take with you when the lights come up and you have to walk back out into the real world. There are two months left until the election, and in the latest polls Bush is leading by double digits.

Can we say epiphany? (Can we spell "epiphany"?) He suddenly and backhandedly sums up why I won't be going to Burning Man, ever, even though I think that I'd like to, and why I won't be doing any protests, ever, even though there are causes I believe in. They're both theatre- without an audience.

I need audience. Audience is the whole point of theatre. As one of my young students once said, if there's no audience "you're wasting your time doing nothing for nobody." Otherwise known as rehearsal. But, to the point: I and most of my oddball associates are actors, (the opposite of people, according to Tom Stoppard in Rosencranz And Guildenstern Are Dead), and being self-congratulatory doesn't do it for us. We're after outside validation, tangible approval of a crowd of strangers.

(This also explains my determination to find a faire that runs in February and March, when my depression spikes, though that's a counterintuitive phrase.)

I came close to doing a protest. No, I didn't. If a protest is theatre, what I did was theatre squared. I was part of a crowd scene on the Mall in Washington, DC for the film Forest Gump. A casting agency sent scouts to the RenFest seeking people with hair. Most of us had plenty. Boredom waiting between takes was relieved by hippie drummers from the faire, none of whom recognized me without my makeup.

The whole experience was surreal. For a few seconds of screen time, they made us take off gloves and jackets (it was cold that November!) and leave our hair unwashed for a whole week of filming.

I mean, I'm all for accuracy, but come on.

(Amazing; Aerosmith)

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