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Celluloid Heroes

You see that I’ll be walking out again – Jimmy Cliff

While doing some light reading on Freud this weekend (a recession-based compromise for actual therapy) I became convinced that my super-ego has been hijacked by one that’s merely okay. As potentially challenging as this sounds, it’s also rendered me with an over-developed id by default. I tested this by going out to a bar and having my id kick some other ids’ asses. Sure enough, it’s like the thing is on steroids – and has me considering the possibility that I may be endowed with the world’s first super-id. All of this sounds rather sexy, but still leaves me with an excess regular ego in place of that which was formerly super. And try getting rid of an extra ego, in these times or any other. Everybody’s either unconsciously hanging on to their own like their last plug nickel or making a futile, conscious attempt to let go of it. But nobody’s buying.

I put down the reading, unable to process any longer, and plugged a few relevant terms in to Google. Up came a 2006 60 Minutes interview with Jim Carrey talking about his struggles with depression and resulting foray in to spirituality. As easy as it is to poke fun at this shit, I kind of admired the guy’s sincerity. I’ve never been a big Carrey fan; his schtick always seemed burdened with a certain effusive neediness. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been able to watch him without some subliminal voice noting “this guy is hurting.” But here he was in check, enthusiastic but humble in acknowledging that whatever insights he’d attained were ephemeral and required conscious effort to return to. He talked about wasted hours of his life he’ll never get back, engaged in imagined conversations with those who had wronged him, and him putting them eloquently in their place. And he spoke of moments of peace that seemed genuine. None of this ever presents well in words, and one runs a certain risk with any attempt. When it was over, interviewer Steve Kroft remarked “I get the sense you’re a bundle of conflicting emotions – it’s all very close to the surface.” Carrey looked crestfallen for a moment before regaining composure. “Yeah, I’m emotional,” he said. “I decided to be there. I only act in movies.” I thought it was a dignified response, and much better than “and I get the sense your head is lodged squarely up your ass” – which I might have gone with.

Epiphany, like religion or political opinion, is best kept to oneself. If you’re going to share it, non-verbal dispersion is preferable. (Try discussing ‘epiphany’, for instance, at your next meeting of the Pipefitters Union.) Writing also holds itself up for critical scrutiny, and words are intrinsically inadequate. If you’re going to go this route, metaphor might be the best bet, particularly if set to 4/4 measure with a solid back beat. Or, as the Rolling Stones put it, “my best friend he shoots water rats and feeds them to his geese ..” Everybody’s looking for an answer; they just don’t want yours. Or maybe they want it – they just don’t want you telling them about it.

Despite wet weather, Carrey insisted on taking Kroft to a spot on his expansive LA property where he went when in need of serenity – a wooden temple of sorts with a deck and place to sit. He put on a good face while words like Buddha and Christ were thrown out, but I got the sense he’d rather have been sitting up there by himself, alone in the rain.

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