Elia Kazan: Keep Dreaming

Jean Pimentel/1983

Interview with James Grissom
New York City
Beginning at Ecce Panis and continuing in Central Park
From Artistic Suicide

Everything I say to you is a confession: I reveal nothing of which I am myself not guilty; I say nothing I have not also believed, felt, betrayed. Still, what I say is harsh--it awakens the dreamers among us.

Perhaps you are a dreamer. I don't know.

But the only way you can truly survive in the world--not just the theatre or the arts or publishing or any of the supposedly rarefied worlds in which you seek to work or study--is to remain, in a basic way, a perpetual amateur, an idiot, a dreamer.

The world is fast and harsh, and it survives only by movement. If you do not aid in the movement--via gravity or progression or contribution--you die, get pushed aside, live your life on the side waving and praying for attention.

You have to get in the parade and move and throw something to the sides. This is what we all do.

But once you've written a book or a play; directed a play or a film; acted in a play or a film; worked with actors or singers or dancers, you realize, with horror--and very rapidly--how bad most things and most people are. I do not mean they are evil people; I mean that they are mediocre at what they do; some of them downright bad. And many of them will succeed, because the mediocrities at the top--producers and directors, primarily--will keep hiring those nice people who do not challenge and who are so grateful to be working at all.

You have to turn a blind eye--as much as you can--to all of this, whether you work with them or merely buy a ticket and have to sit through their rubbish. And why? Because when life or the theatre or love or writing or dance or music works, it is sublime and gives us reasons to live. So put on the blinders and remain the amateur, the rube, and keep believing it can happen, it will happen, it has to happen.

Utilize your fullest vision only when you are comfortable in the presence of good and dedicated people who understand how sublime it can all be.

In the meantime, keep dreaming, cloud your vision, try to forget most of what you've seen.

©2013 James Grissom


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