Marlon Brando: Art Is Worthless
Oh, it's all worthless, really. Life is committing fully to things and to people that you know will not repay you with any of the passion or respect you hope to receive. This is what I call Zen Nihilism, and you go right on doing it. There is no other way. You continue to work and to hope and to be disappointed.
I can hear your dissatisfaction, your intake of breath. You're hurt. What I want to clarify is that art is worthless for various reasons. It is worthless most often because non-artists have decided to pretend to be artists, and they give the world a bowl of shit. And then the investors and the press--really the same thing--gather together to praise and support the intention. That's one example of the worthlessness of art.
Another example is the realization, on the part of a real artist, that he is not up to the task, but he continues. He continues for various reasons: To get it right. To pay the rent. To support a director or a writer or an actor who needs him, who depends upon him. This is noble, but it is still worthless.
The most punishing example of the worthlessness of art is the true pain of trying hard to be good: It is the realization that you have done all you can. Everyone has done all that they can. You have created or given birth to a work of art--a performance, a film--and it now needs to leave your body, your consciousness, your brain, your heart. It is time for it to go. It does you no good any longer. You're excreting this work of art, and you're ready for it to move on so you can get to the next task.
The happy time, if one can call it that, is when you are first bitten by the idea for something, and you get that feeling that it may be art. You hope. You run toward it. And there is no one else there. Only you and the dream and the idea. No money or press people to distort and diminish your big idea.
All alone. Working and dreaming. Only then is the art worthwhile.
From Come Up A Man: The Hungers of Marlon Brando by James Grissom
© 2015 James Grissom