Friday, August 29, 2014

Morpheus tells Neo, "Don't think you are. Know you are."

I was just sitting at my desk when it hit me about how actors feel when they act, and how that relates to me in my body.  In my previous e-mail, I posted an article I wrote in 2004 entitled, "who is the I," a crude self-analysis of trying to figure out what part of my experience is "me."

I don't know if I was channelling Descartes, or any of the other philosophers I have read over the years, or whether I was at the time simply hashing out a Chassidic discourse or "maimer" I was working on at the time.  However, just now, I got a flash of something.

Actors stand in the role of another person, the better the actor, the more believable the character in the play or the movie.  I often said that there are a number of actors who are the same person in every movie NOT because they choose to only play certain characters, but BECAUSE THEY CAN'T GET THEIR REAL SELVES OUT OF THE WAY WHEN ACTING AS THE CHARACTER.

I remember in college, I took a number of acting classes.  And, I needed to stand in front of the crowd and become someone else.  At the time, I was too nervous and self-whatever it is called to get out of my own shell and be the character.  However, my instructor told me to "take off my shirt," which made me extra nervous because there were girls in that class that I liked very much, but I was too timid to approach or befriend.  When I took off my shirt which reflected the "persona," "style," or "character" of the personality I was trying to wear, so to speak, the professor smiled after a few seconds and said, "Ah, there you are."  The other students saw it also.

The focus on what I am trying to convey is that there are all these layers of "stuff" we carry with us which prevent us from being who we really are.  Perhaps we were hurt as a child.  Perhaps we have had our hearts broken.  Perhaps we are unable to support our families.  While each of these are reasons to justify the feeling of sadness being there, the act of judging those experiences as "bad" and choosing to "kuch" or to swim in those feelings is not justified.  You are not your creator, and you are not the one who created the world.  As such, you are not the person who created the people who hurt you, and you are not the person who caused them to hurt you.  Quite frankly, I would even venture to say that you are not the "I" in this "movie" who was hurt, and nor do you have the right to choose to be sad about what happened to your character.  Doing so is like saying, "G-d, I know better than you, and I'm smarter than you.  You made a mistake.  It should have played out like THIS."

Rather, you have a duty to be who you are, to be authentic, and not to drag the past, the future, or to assume the role of some movie character, Superman, or persona that you would like to emulate into your daily life.  All of us would like to be the best we are.  Your job as the actor, or the force wearing your character as a puppet is to step into the body of your character, and be that character.  Don't try to be yourself being that character, and don't try to change or improve who the character is.  Rather, play out that character's story as he was put on this planet.  This obviously requires a bit of creativity to do this, so think, do, say, and act in ways which will make the character the best he or she is.  Or, if you are sadistic, fuck up your characters life and see where that goes.  In other words, stop trying to judge your character, JUST ACT AND BE THAT CHARACTER.  The weird thing is that whether you do good for your character or whether you mess up his or her life by acting in contrary to the way he would act, part of me thinks he's not real and its just YOU out there, so go experience life however you want your character to experience it.  {Personally, I want to have my character follow the rules and be measured in my character's steps because I still don't believe that I am not my character, so I have not yet been able to break free of that fear of doing so.  I also -- for love of my character -- want that character to have the best life possible, and I want him and his family to thrive both physically, spiritually, and emotionally.  So as my character, I will do what I believe are actions which I believe are in his best interests.}

This is so hard to convey, and I am hearing thoughts telling me that I am still not conveying it right.  So attempt #2.

A good actor is the character in whom he is placing his persona.  A good actor assumes the person who is the subject of his acting.  So instead of thinking you are that character, BE THAT CHARACTER.

This almost reminds me of the Matrix movie where Morpheus tells Neo while they are fighting (and I am obviously butchering the words), "...Stop TRYING to hit me and HIT ME! You are faster than this.  Don't think you are; KNOW YOU ARE."  Then right afterwards, just before he jumps across a huge gap between two buildings, he says "don't think you can.  Know you can.  Free your mind."  Neo obviously trys to force himself to think he can do it, and he fell to the floor many stories down and blood spurted from his lips.

In sum, a lesson to myself and to you -- stop trying to be who you are, and BE WHO YOU ARE!

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