Marlon Brando: Forever In Transit, Part Four
Via Telephone/July 1990
The dream--any dream--is the lie that forces you to walk the plank, open the door, complete the task. You dream of becoming an actor, and you think only of the triumphs of language, of subverting reality through the art of acting, of working in tandem with a group of like-minded artists who shared the same dream.
This is the dream that gets you through the classes and the auditions and the wretched plays in the moldy halls and theatres, only to find that what you dreamed never existed. You think it must have once existed--why, only yesterday, theatre, films, books, were glorious and read and supported and perpetually brilliant, but I recall a somber night, beginning in a drugstore and ending on a fire escape on a hot New York night, when Marian Seldes read to me something that Robert Edmond Jones had written, in which he stated that it was never true that the theatre was wonderful, save for tiny pockets of exception. Try to get into one of those pockets, lovely, dark Marian told me on that night.
I had bought the dream; I had lived it; I had inhaled it like the smoke of opium. I was enraged, but rage is a good motivator to change things, to change oneself.
Marian Seldes, photographed by Carl Van Vechten.
If you are prepared to be an artist, prepare to lie to yourself almost perpetually. Lie Number One: What I am doing matters. It doesn't--not until you do something extraordinary that changes people, that asks tough questions, that elevates and alters the very form in which you work. The rest is diddling, juiceless jacking off for tired people or your friends. Lie Number Two is that all work is valid and worthy and will lead to the great work. This is nonsense: any work in anything meretricious is worthless, treading water, biding time, wasting time, wasting energy. Let's talk a bit about some careers we both know that are still treading water after thirty or forty years, waiting for the great work, waiting for the revelation. These are people who have harvested the landfills looking for the treasure. They are still in a landfill, and they ask us to pay for admission to watch them grovel and poke and pray that the gold piece they have pulled from beneath the carcass of a dog is real. It never is. Don't go there. Save your money. Save your life.
Be tough. Don't be afraid to make enemies and to go without. The world is all too eager to offer you an omelette of snot and smegma and to urge you to be grateful that you have had breakfast.
Set your terms.
Find that pocket of exception. Cultivate the gift of knowing when you see one.
TO BE CONTINUED