Agency, Cinema, Art

Over winter break I watched a movie about Ancient Greece and one of the points it made was that democracy was the genesis of theater. This is because democracy was essentially the invention of choice and theater is based on choices that characters make – in thinking, in words, in action. Before democracy, the Greeks believed that the gods carried the fate of the future and everything was predetermined. But with democracy came choice and with choice came complex thinking, characters, characteristics, natural consequences. You bear the fruit of your own choices. In this new world, people began to create their own destinies with their agency. And those decisions create the intrigue.

Also, the idea in theater, and in cinema is that truth lies in multiple perspectives, which is another concept in democracy. The most powerful person does not own the narrative – the truth lies in multiple perspectives.

I have been thinking a lot about art partly because I am hungry for it and maybe slightly jealous of people who get to do it. I guess I am closer than I ever dreamed I would be, to screenwriting and acting. I really liked Ethan Hawke’s discussion of it here. I remember one of my first loves – I wrote tons of melodramatic, obsessive poems about my bursting heart and the fire inside me, haha.

My blog is certainly a form of release and creative expression, and I crave that so so much. I like my graphic art and my pictures but I think I like words and writing and giving thought to other people more. Sometimes I think I like the audience and the energy of it.

I miss going to theaters and laughing and crying with other people in the audience.

When I was little I was in a few plays and they were so fun (until I developed crippling anxiety and then it wasn’t fun). Being in a play is more fun than watching. Every time I leave a play in the theater, I think to myself, That was amazing. And the only possible way of enjoying it more would be to actually be in it.

But my question is– if art is just meant to be enjoyed by the artist, and it’s not meant to defeat any critics or prove any victory, then why show it to anyone? Why not just do it for yourself and love it permanently without facing anyone’s criticism? You don’t get to decide if someone else likes it or not, so why not just love it privately?

Ethan Hawke gives a good answer.

I also think there’s something liberating, cathartic about expressing yourself and telling another’s story in a public forum.

But how do actors feel when everyone says they bombed? Do they love their craft just as much afterward?

I once read that Johnny Depp never watches his movies, and if there is one actor who consistently looks like he is having fun on screen – it’s him. So maybe it really is the process and not the result that counts. Like honestly, if no one likes your work except you — so what. Who cares. right?

In other news, Michigan announced on Monday that we don’t have to wear masks on campus and it feels good but I also feel like I’m naked. Hope you’re well.


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