Iíll Show You the Life of the Mind


          Oh, right. Dave loves to say that. Itís from Barton Fink. One of my favorite Coen Brothers films. Turturro is really great in that one. But heís great in everything. I wonder why heís not a bigger star. Or maybe thatís part of what makes him great. Maybe he seems so great to me because he always picks the most interesting roles and those roles are never in big-budget mainstream films because thatís not even what most of the public wants. Although I heard he was in one of those Transformer movies that really sucked, but I never saw it. Itís like that conversation I was having with Mark about how itís not even possible to get a big budget behind an interesting story because interesting stories, by definition, alienate enough of the audience to make it hard to get your investment money back. At least, I think thatís the theory we finally agreed on. Sometimes, when I talk to Mark for a while, we wind up covering the issue from so many different angles that itís not clear what weíve established by the time we run out of daylight. But I love that about Mark. Itís one of the things that makes him a great guy. Iím really happy for him that he married such a wonderful woman. Not that itís any of my business, but they seem good together. She seems good for him. And I want him to be happy. I guess I want everyone to be happy. Or wait. Do I? Is that even possible? Iím not even totally sure how much I believe in happiness. I mean, as soon as you achieve anything that makes you happy, you immediately have to set off for something else. Itís never a maintainable state. I think thatís one of the reasons Leslie and I havenít gotten married. Weíre not quite sure we know what it means. Does it mean deciding that we could never be happier somewhere else? Or with someone else? Would it make us complacent? Would we just get fat and stop fucking? Does that happen anyway? I guess thatís all bullshit. I mean, life is what you make it, so marriage is probably whatever you make it too. In the big scheme of things, it probably doesnít make any difference whether we get married or not, so I donít know why we make such a big deal out of it. I guess itís just a symbolic act. I imagine weíll get around to it if we ever figure out exactly what we want it to symbolize. For now, Iím just happy that we both seem to want the same things out of life. We both like living in Paris. We both want to be artists. We both love watching and making films. Come to think of it, we both really love the Coen Brothers. Thatís probably why she gave me this title. But weirdly enough, weíve been trying to make a mutual list of our all-time favorite films, and so far there isnít that much Coen Brothers stuff on it. Itís like we appreciate the cumulative effect of their body of work, but itís hard to pin down which one actually stands out as the classic. Like Grateful Dead albums. For me, itís between Barton Fink and The Big Lebowski. But I think Leslieís withholding judgment until she sees Fargo. She never gets around to seeing it because Iíve seen it a few times and Iím never in the mood to watch it again. I mean, it was ok. It was actually pretty good. But itís hard to get all excited about re-watching something when there are all kinds of cool things you havenít even seen yet. And that one seems to come around a fair amount on its own. Iím always running into it in hotel rooms or on airplanes. Leslie just seems to keep missing it for some reason. Or more likely, for no reason. I donít really buy into all that Ďeverything happens for a reasoní crap. I think thatís just a fairy tale we tell ourselves. I think humans are just obsessed with reason, so we think we see it everywhere even if we donít. Itís like Freud thinking that everything we see and do is about wanting to fuck our mothers. Sounds more to me like Freud just wanted to fuck his own mother, so he saw that everywhere he looked. Maybe for someone else, everything we see and do is about water. Maybe they grew up in a dry place where water was the ultimate symbol of power, control and survival. So theyíre obsessed with water and they see it in everything. And when people see reason everywhere, I canít help thinking that theyíre only seeing what theyíre actively looking for. I wonder what Iím looking for. I like to think that Iím looking for truth, and trying to see the truth in everything, but I donít know how much truth I actually see. I guess, by my own logic, if what people see is what theyíre looking for, then I must be looking for bullshit. Because I see bullshit everywhere. All the shit people own, the shit they wear, the priorities on which they base their lives, all the silly little answers they always try to slap onto the great big beautiful questions. Like these old ladies I just saw learning Tai Chi in the park. I canít believe thereís something they havenít learned from 65 years of life experience that theyíre suddenly going to learn by putting on a black nightshirt and standing on one foot next to a pond all afternoon. But thatís exactly what I mean about seeing what youíre looking for. If I were a more positive person, Iím sure that Iíd see that whole situation in a much less derogatory light. It isnít like thereís any logical reason that I have to be an asshole about old ladies checking out Tai Chi. It might even be the coolest thing going on in the whole city right now. Maybe theyíre expanding their minds in some beautiful way that I donít know about because Iím a willfully close-minded, judgmental dick, who sits around in the park looking for ways to criticize the behavior of others. Why am I even like that? I donít think it has anything to do with my mother. At least not with fucking her, anyway. It probably just has to do with my insecurity about the value of what I do with my own time. All the stupid shit that I own and eat and wear. And to be fair, Iím not always like that. Even just now, I kinda caught myself being like that and reeled it back in. I like to think that I reel that shit in more than I let it go. Not that I want to be dishonest or inauthentic, but I donít think those inclinations to bag on other people are really the most honest reflection of myself. I like to think of myself as a basically nice person who only gets that way sometimes when Iím feeling fragile or scared. But that must be what everyone thinks of themselves deep down. And that doesnít mean that nobodyís an asshole. So how does anyone even know if theyíre the bad guy? I hope thereís some value just in asking ourselves. Like that old saying that only a sane person wonders if theyíre crazy. I really do hope thatís true. Because I wonder if Iím crazy all the time. Some of the things that seem obvious to me are so far afield from the things that are commonly accepted as true that I wind up vacillating between thinking Iím ahead of my time and feeling so guilty for being that arrogant that I start thinking Iím probably a nutcase instead. An apologetic nutcase harboring secret narcissism under his trench coat (or the other way around). But I also suspect thatís another thing that is more widespread than it seems. Iíll bet most people go back and forth apologizing all the time for their uniquenesses, while silently still believing that theyíre right. I saw that cool video recently - I wish I could remember where I saw it - by that poet (or was it a comedian?) who was saying that nobody ever truly believes that theyíre wrong at the actual time when theyíre wrong. Her theory was that we can learn, in retrospect, that we were wrong, and acknowledge that we have been wrong, but that we canít actually operate under the assumption that we are currently wrong. And that makes a lot of sense to me. Iíve done a lot of things that I should have known at the time were wrong, but, at the exact instant that I was doing them, I was probably making up a little narrative in my head about a way they could be considered Ďnot really wrong.í At least, itís an interesting thing to think about. Thatís probably why arguments happen. Because whoeverís wrong canít ever see it at the time. I argue with people way too much. And I never consciously think, during the argument, ďJason, youíre doing that thing you do. Stop it.Ē Or actually, I do think that, but I simultaneously think up some reason that this particular incident is somehow an exception to the larger trend Iíve been monitoring. And itís really funny to think about that because, looking at it that way, I think I just understood something Leslieís always trying to explain to me whenever we fight. But it never makes sense to me at the time, in the heat of the moment. I think thatís one of the biggest problems Leslie and I have. We have totally different fighting styles. Itís like sumo wrestling versus mixed martial arts. I just keep trying to push her over while she just keeps changing the subject. We usually donít get anything communicated until later, when one of us realizes alone what the other one must have been trying to say before. Weird. Am I just realizing that now? As I think about it? Or have I crossed the line from thinking something through on paper into presenting something Iíve already thought about before? Must be a little of both, I guess. Like I was thinking down an unnavigated stream and then it joined back up with a well-known main river. Or is that called a tributary? Are those the ones that feed in? Or the ones that derivate from? I should learn more about that kind of thing. Is derivate even a word? I really need to round out my education a little better. What the hell got me off on all that anyway? Oh yeah! ďIíll show you the life of the mind.Ē