Monday, October 31, 2011

NaNoWriMo, ho!

national novel writing month.
totally doing it. have been prepping a novel for more than a month, and the timing is working out perfectly. i'm totally ready to just sit down and write my heart out everyday till i know what the hell i've got here. the characters have names and faces and voices and motivations and the plot is all figured out (yay for using someone else's plot and just updating it for your own purposes).

i have now registered on the nanowrimo site, given a 'title' to my book and written a brief synopsis:

'a re-imagining of hamlet in a modern-day arts college where hamlet's motivation is not revenge but coming out of the closet. hamlet's boyfriend (the horatio of the story) curates a tale of what happened after the fact, compiling letters, emails, rumors, interviews, film footage, and his own memory, both of events he witnessed and of hamlet's constant commentary on them.'

the 'narrator', the horatio, is named robin and looks exactly like my fictional/dreamworld boyfriend (quickly becoming my alter-ego). the hamlet is named henry, and looks like every boy i've ever wanted to be (/be with). i'm really excited to see hamlet thru horatio's eyes. i think that will be really beautiful. i'm also excited for them to fall in love.

and i think the title is: 'absent from felicity'.

thing is, i'm kinda scared. this is the point at which i always fail. the point where i can see the full extent of the project. the point that is just past the rush of adrenaline that comes with creating a new world and a new way of telling its story. the point where the amount of work ahead of me really sets in. the point where i start to question my ability to do said work. the point where i'm sure i have bitten off way more than i can chew. looking out over this huge valley from the crest of my hill, i can see the road before me, and already it makes me tired.

but as of midnight tonight i will have no time to think about being at the beginning of this journey anymore. i will have already started my little wagon rolling down the huge hill with the intimidating vista, and come hell or high water, come bounces, jounces, scratches, crashes, lost wheels and all, i will arrive at the bottom in 30 days. who knows what that will look like--doesn't really matter--point is, i pushed myself to get there. it won't be the end of my novel journey, but it will be a sight farther along the road than i am right now.

problem is, i prolly won't have time to do anything over in blog-land, unless i find some good moments from the book to post up here. i'm not gonna promise anything, tho. i'll prolly still need you, dear blog, as an outlet for writing that has nothing to do with the novel (if i find a moment to do so), just don't give up on me. at least, not yet.

[looked back last night on my blog and finally gave labels to my posts. they might not be as thorough as i would like, but it's something. so, search by label, tell me if something doesn't make sense.]

Monday, October 10, 2011

gendered pronouns

Here's the thing: I hate pronouns. Hate them with a passion. Think they are idiotic. Wish we could eradicate them from the English language.

Okay. I realize that's a little strong. And not actually true. Pronouns are very helpful and I appreciate the convenience they afford me in my speech. But the fuckers have no right to go and be gendered! It's ridiculous! It's unfair! And by god, it makes me fighting mad that I have only two choices and an insult when trying to speak about people who inevitably are a thousand times more complex than he, she or it.

My overall hatred for them is why I have a hard time asking people to use a specific one for me. Cuz wtf? I shouldn't have to choose which of two inaccurate ways I want people to talk about me. And I don't like that they have to either. But I would prefer to let the speaker choose whichever one feels most correct for them at the time, as long as they are actually thinking about which pronoun is the most appropriate at any given moment.

But it seems that can lead to laziness on some people's part; not feeling like switching it up cuz one choice is more familiar. And, because I don't feel like getting totalitarian around this, and proscribe one option (or prescribe another) I let it slide. At least for some people. Usually ones I have known for a very long time, and, not so incidentally, ones who are cis-gendered females.

And yes, I know how much of a double standard I am creating, and also how gendered my own thinking is about trying to break gender stereotypes, but it's true. I feel less annoyed when a woman I know uses 'she' for me than when a man does. And of course this goes back to gender roles and misogyny and my specific experience of always wanting to be one of the boys but never quite making the cut, but I honestly can't help it. And it was brought to my attention today so I thought i'd explore it here.

Being a part of a community of women has always been bittersweet for me. On one hand, I think it's really great to share experiences with other people that carry a female body thru this world, who were socialized on the feminine end of the spectrum, and who inevitably deal with being basically an outsider in a man's world (cuz this is still more true than anyone wants to admit). But on the other hand, you get enough women in a room together and get them talking, and soon i'm gonna feel uncomfortable/unwelcome to the point of being driven from my seat. Because I also feel a strong connection with the masculine point of view, I chose to pick up enough of the male socialization that my brothers were given, and I have enough internalized misogyny to keep me from feeling accepted/safe in all-women spaces.

(yes, I know how shitty this phrase can sound, but it's true:) some of my best friends are women. I connect with women (usually in a one-on-one situation) in a very real and comfortable way because I learned this skill in order to function as a 'girl'. But also I have always been emotionally accessible, thoughtful and interested, and very good with verbal communication. And building relationships with people by listening to them and talking with them is very important to me. So, yes. Because women are taught these skills more than men are, I know how to function in relationship with them very well and have become close with many of them. And thank god I have.

Because of all of this history that I have with my female friends, I take it as a bit of a compliment when they want to count me as one of their members by using 'she' to describe me, even though it feels remarkably inaccurate right now. However, it is also true that if they were to use the word 'he' for me, I would be even more flattered. Here's why: because if my friend has taken into account both our history of feminine bonding in our friendship, and where I am in my life and what i'm trying to accomplish in my interactions with others, to the point of figuring out how to be comfortable using a masculine pronoun for me, I will count it as a huge compliment. Partially because it feels like a real vote of confidence that she is willing to use a word that describes a group of people that historically have not been good at understanding her group, without actually lumping me into that category (at least I assume non-lumpage, given our closeness). And furthermore, if she is talking to someone I don't know particularly well, it feels like i'm being given even more of a gift since she is allowing me to choose for myself when I want to divulge my personal gender profile to that other person.

And yet, somehow the opposite is true for men. Well, not the opposite cuz there is no opposite, but kind of. If a man that I have known for a long time uses 'she' for me, it feels both familiar, because it means we can fall into the more accepted 'male/female' interactions, and somewhat insulting, because it means he is setting us up to fall into said gender roles. In fact, it feels a bit like being ghettoized. Boxed in. Trapped in a habit I don't want to be a part of anymore. And, because of my internalized misogyny, like i'm being lessened or trivialized by this label. Like I said earlier, a lot of this is my own shit about never feeling fully accepted as one of the guys. Therefore, if he uses the word 'he' for me, I feel instantly as if I have been brought into the fold. It's an incredible compliment for me and makes me feel awesome. It means he has thought about me and how I want to be seen and possibly allowed some part of my personality to resonate as being masculine enough for that word to sound like it might actually describe at least something about me. That feels exactly like success in my book; that something about me feels masculine enough for a guy to see me as at least partially in that club. (yes, I hear the faint sound of a younger brother looking to be let into the cool kids' club. I have an older brother and that experience is deeply embedded in my psyche as the way to acceptance. Whatever, don't judge.)

All of this is why I am a bit harsher with the men in my life around the use of pronouns for me. Because for women, I can feel the love on both sides of the coin, and for men can only feel it on one.

now, the tricky part is when the guy I have known for a long time has also been a love interest in the past, cuz that makes things at least five times more complicated. Cuz now we are dealing with my feelings for him (past and present), my feelings about my gender&sexuality, his feelings for me (past and present), his feelings about my gender&sexuality and his feelings about his own sexuality. (my feelings about his sexuality are only a part of this equation if he makes them so. Cuz in my head, how I identify doesn't change my understanding of how he identifies. But in his, it might.)

The one I think has the most pitfalls would be: his feelings about his own sexuality. Say a cis-gendered hetero guy I know and love decides to use a masculine pronoun for me. Now, if he doesn't want to flat-out deny any history of intimacy we might have had, he is going to have to assess how he feels about using a masculine pronoun for someone he has made out with, and then decide what that means for his understanding of his sexuality. It could mean nothing. It could mean everything. Depends on where he is with his homophobia and his ally-ship.

I understand that this could be difficult, which is why when a guy friend uses 'he' for me, I feel so grateful. Cuz I myself wouldn't want to deny any part of my relationship with him, but given that i'm okay with being a bit of a fag, it doesn't change my sense of myself in any way to accept it. And that's cuz i'm queer. For me, being queer means identifying as broadly as possible on the gender spectrum as well as being attracted to as broad a spectrum as possible. This is the problem with identifying as a heterosexual: it puts you into an either/or situation. And I think a lot of people, especially men, are there by default. That though they may be somewhat attracted to men (as well as women, i'm not gonna talk about closeted gays here), they have found it a lot easier to just stick with the 'opposite' gender for sake of simplicity or convenience. Flipping a coin is a lot easier than finding the right section of a sliding scale.

But a coin doesn't actually work in this situation. I won't allow it to simply by existing how I do. My gender is a journey, not a static thing. And that means other people have to get on board the train or never change their idea of me (however historically accurate) to fit where I am now. Hence my abhorrence of gendered pronouns.

Which is why i'm going to ask you, dear reader, a favor: try boycotting them. Just try, for like, 2 minutes, the next time you speak of me (whether i'm there or not) try to eschew the use of any gendered pronoun in reference to me. Believe me, I know what i'm asking you to do. I've been doing grammatical acrobatics in order to make this work for years now (when talking about others) for this exact reason, and I know how hard it is.

I'll give you two pointers: 1) sometimes, if you structure the sentence right, 'they' doesn't sound completely ridiculous and unclear as to the number of people mentioned, and 2) my name is one syllable, it's not that annoying to repeat it more times than usual in a sentence, or even a paragraph.

maybe some of you have already done this for me, maybe you already do this for many people in your life. if so, I readily and heartily thank you. If you haven't, know that I and a vast number of my genderqueer ilk will be eternally grateful to you for just making the effort.

Friday, October 7, 2011

introducing, mr. james tiptree jr.

So there was this Scifi short story writer in the 60's and 70's who went by the name of James Tiptree Jr. His friends called him Tip, for short. Tip wrote really challenging, fascinating, disturbing and avant guarde fiction that defied the existing labels of genre and voice. He was seen as very macho, but also quite a feminist. His stories had all the space, aliens, and technology of 'hard' scifi, but were dripping with the sociological and psychological issues of 'soft' scifi (not to mention an incredibly experimental style). Things are usually pretty dark and grim in Tip's work. And a lot of times you aren't sure who's side you should be on. Or who's side he is on. There isn't a lot of faith in humanity or the future, but as a reader I find myself consistently amazed by the twist of perception that brings you to some kind of amazing, if devastating, insight into the human (and many times, female) condition. Suzy Mckee Charnas (another scifi writer) is quoted as saying, "'Tip' was a crucial part of modern SF's maturing process... [He] wrote powerful fiction challenging readers' assumptions about everything, especially sex and gender." These were the days of militant feminism and many of Tip's stories dealt with the relationship between men and women and tended to treat sex as a problem or a threat. It's difficult shit. But incredibly rewarding. Seriously, this guy will blow your mind. [check out his stuff here]

Tip himself was an interesting character. Intensely reclusive, he only had dealings with publishers, authors, and the scifi community at large through the mail. It was pretty well known that he used a nom de plume, but he hinted that it had to do with his job (top secret governement stuff) and he couldn't say much about his personal life. He became close friends by correspondence with folks like Ursula K. LeGuin and Barry Malzberg, who thought of him as a stately older gentleman. He always insisted he was very shy, but was good at courtly flirting with women and giving respect or advice to men.

But the thing is, James Tiptree Jr. only existed on paper. Well that, and in the head and heart (and, I believe, the desire) of a woman named Alice B. Sheldon. When she started writing scifi she felt embarrassed and wanted to shield her own identity, and so Tip was born. But soon it got to the point where she was interacting with people in a personal way (not just business letters) under an assumed identity. This actually seemed to suit her very well. She had many times been one of the boys in her multiple lines of work (she actually was a CIA agent for a time) and she was almost totally able to keep her flesh-and-blood identity and, for the most part, her body's gender (though there were scattered rumors) a secret for about ten years.

One of the things I love about this 'double life' is what it says about people's assumptions of gender. Especially the gender of authors. Some of Tip's close scifi friends wondered if he was homosexual. Which, given that Alice was married to a man, was somewhat true this way. And, given that she had been in love with multiple women when she was younger, was somewhat true that way, too. But when it came down to it, Tip himself was a heterosexual man who didn't act upon his desire, hiding his manhood behind a mask of flirtation and humor and at the same time stripping his authorship bare with sincere praise of others and voicing artistic insecurities in himself. This allowed him to form very close friendships with women who found him to be 'a man who understands women'. And though there were people who felt betrayed when they learned of Alice, believing her to have lied to them, they couldn't deny the fact that they cared about Tip and had been very much affected by the deeply human truth in his writing, both fictional and epistolary.

The two things I love and respect most about this writer are one, the idea of getting so far into a character that you can embody him for the purposes of writing other fictional characters. It impresses me to no end. And two, i feel kinship with Alice because I think her relationship with Tip goes beyond the actor/writer talent i've written about [here] and, as it does for me, it falls into the realm of a trans narrative. If you read their biography (james tiptree, jr. the double life of alice b. sheldon) with an eye to it, you can come to believe that Tip's masculine identity was feeding a subconscious transgender desire in Alice. Tip & Alice's biographer, Julie Phillips, does not go this far in her book. She covers homosexuality in Alice's life and what being Tip gave her in the way of comfort to a neglected part of herself, but she doesn't go so far as to mention the idea of a trans identity. I think this is because the concept of an FTM trans person existing in the world was too foreign to accept in her time and therefore could seem like an unfair analysis. Hard to identify someone as something they had never thought possible. Not in real life, anyway. (cuz tho Alice did have breast reduction surgery at one point in order to feel better about her appearance, she never could have imagined actually ridding herself of her breasts completely. So close, yet so far...)

But this introduction was all just to underline Nabokov's idea of getting so far into a character you forget who you are. And to mention that for some people, at least for Alice and myself, sometimes you start to prefer that character to your original self. Which can be rewarding, cuz in many ways, Alice found it easier to interact with people when she was Tip. But I fear it can also be treacherous. She battled with depression for much of her life (evidenced in writing by both herself and Tip), and ended it by suicide. From what I've read, I believe on a lot of levels it was Tip that kept Alice alive as long as she was. She killed herself a decade after Tip's identity was 'revealed', but her suicide note had been written a long time before she decided to use it. I kinda think once Tip couldn't exist anymore, she would have been ready to stop existing too, but she wouldn't leave her husband alone.

The lesson I come away with here is that living a fictional life can create real happiness, but it's still bounded by the strictures of that which is not real. Which seems counter-intuitive, cuz isn't anything possible in fiction? There are two answers to this:

1) it depends on how you set up your fictional world,


2) the only thing that fiction can't do is become non-fiction.

The first of these answers can instill an incredible sense of freedom, the other, a crushing despair. Cuz there is nothing that aches quite as cruelly as getting so close to the thing you want most—so close you can describe every last detail of it—without actually being able to reach into the page and grab it.

I can build an entire world to live in, and I can construct a self to make a home in it. I can fabricate friends and family to accompany this self there. I, in fact, do this in my mind and on paper. And it helps me to be able to see my possibilities, to talk to, and through, my different selves. It's still not my real life, though. It is, however, my work. My life's work. But the gap between life and work can be a tempting one to bridge.

Alice set her world up so that Tip had a life of his own, which she lived thru. I can't imagine how simultaneously freeing and tormenting this must have been. Cuz i'm pretty sure that she did lexically what I do physically [re: muscle memory]; find the right voice, stance, demeanor, and flourishes to be read how she wanted to by her audience. They then gave her the responses she was looking for—they treated her as him. Which for a time was enough for everyone. But at some point her 'audience', ie, her friends, asked more of her than she could give—they asked her to actually be him. To embody a self that was never meant to exist off the page. They asked her to make a fiction into non-fiction. And I think it hurt her quite a bit that she couldn't oblige. Him too, for that matter. How frustrating must it be to have amorous feelings for a woman and be confined to pecking them out on a typewriter? To be asked to drink a beer with a buddy and have to beg off every time because you are all head and heart without hands or mouth? A decade of this is long past any game of hide-and-seek. The pain of fearing you won't live up to the expectations you yourself instilled in others is why I love James Tiptree Jr. and Alice B. Sheldon so much. And in case this wasn't clear, this is the pain some trans people feel in their living-among-other-humans life. Every. Single. Day.

my fictional boyfriend

[this post is basically a footnote to the previous blog post, put here so the other one wouldn't be so long]

Humbert Humbert is what made me first fall head-over-heels for Nabokov. And yes, you might find my language strong when I say that at 22, when I first read him, (tho ten years later this is still mostly true) I was deeply and passionately in love with Humbert and all his admitted faults and foibles, all his laid-bare insecurities and treacheries, all his secret longings and confessions of fearful captivation. The moment I first finished that book I would have defended him unto death if someone had walked up to me and called him a felonious pedophilic pervert. (which someone did *) Which he is. But that's the genius of my dear Nabokov. He got so far inside Humbert's skin and brain and heart, so deeply into the core of his desire, that he was able to make H.H. perfectly human in each of his atrocities. Now, I haven't read a lot about VN's life, but what I have has absolutely no correlation to HH's, not a shred of a shadow of similarity. Not even of the same ilk as Lewis Carroll's girl photographs or J. M. Barrie's overzealous love for 'his' boys.

The real skill here is getting so far into the places where you are exactly like your character that putting him into a certain frame of mind far from your own is just as easy as having him act just like you. It's possible (ask any actor you know). And I obviously did it while reading Lolita. I liked Humbert enough to go along with his story until I was in too deep to be able to stop trusting his goodness even when what he did was bad enough that he had to justify it to me over and over. And yet, I was so taken by him I believed his justifications. Because otherwise I had to stop loving him as much as I did.

In a lot of ways I, the reader, was just as captive as his little nymphet. In fact, I actually dropped off the face of the earth for the 3 days it took me to read that book the first time. I didn't do anything but sleep, eat, and read. I was so enslaved to the story that I might as well have been trapped in a cheap motel eating junk food. And it wasn't until I finally finished reading and resurfaced enough to tell a friend about my love, Mr. H. Humbert, that she made me realize what a monster he was. (*yet still I couldn't let go.) And thus, as a form-following-function type of novel, as many of his are, (or more specifically, an experience-of-reading-mirrors-action-in-book type, is that the same thing?) it's an utter masterpiece.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

who is that in the mirror?

[note: this is an incredibly self-referential post. all the links lead you to other relevant posts, sometimes more than once. i do not apologize for this, as i believe Mr V. Nabokov would approve. --rvf]

“Here is what sometimes happened to me: after spending the first part of the night at my desk—that part when night trudges heavily uphill—i would emerge from the trance of my task at the exact moment when night had reached the summit and was teetering on that crest, ready to roll down into the haze of dawn; I would get up from my chair, feeling chilly and utterly spent, turn on the light in my bedroom, and suddenly see myself in the looking glass. Then it would go like this: during the time I had been deep at work, I had grown disacquainted with myself, a sensation akin to what one may experience when meeting a close friend after years of separation: for a few empty, lucid but numb moments you see him in an entirely different light even though you realize that the frost of this mysterious anesthesia will presently wear off, and the person you are looking at will revive, glow with warmth, resume his old place, becoming again so familiar that no effort of the will could possibly make you recapture that fleeting sensation of estrangedness. Precisely thus I now stood considering my own reflection in the glass and failing to recognize it as mine. And the more keenly I examined my face—those unblinking alien eyes, that sheen of tiny hairs along the jaw, that shade along the nose—and the more insistently I told myself “this is I, this is so-and-so,” the less clear it became why this should be “I,” the harder I found it to make the face in the mirror merge with that “I” whose identity I failed to grasp. When I spoke of my odd sensations, people justly observed that the path I had taken led to the madhouse.” --"Terror" by, Vladimir Nabokov

The feeling of not recognizing yourself in the mirror after a long night of writing makes perfect sense to me. Just as we try to make connection by seducing others in their loneliness from our own solitary states (explored here and here), we also can sometimes attempt connection by transformation from one self into another. There is the very real example of James Tiptree Jr. but there is also the everyday feeling of peopling your world with your characters. Often, in order to understand how they think, act, and speak, one can find oneself not only adding a healthy dose of one's own character, but also, or alternately, divesting oneself of every likeness to one's ordinary persona and delving as far into the mind, body and soul of the character on the page.

This, my friends, is how a writer can be more like an actor than anyone is willing to admit. I've recently realized, especially since working on a modernization/novelization of Hamlet, that I am an actor for the page, instead of the stage. But in this case I'm not only an actor that plays every role, but also the director. And the set designer and the costumer and the dramaturg, not to mention the playwright (well, the guy in charge of adaptation). Thank God there isn't really call for a stage manager, given everyone is in my own head. (An editor, however, would be nice...)

But that said, it's true that for both writers and actors there is that moment, as you are climbing up out of your scene and shaking off your character(s), where you look around and blink, trying to remember who you are when you are at home. And sometimes it comes rushing back to you and you feel like you are at home in this self when interacting with others. And sometimes it doesn't, especially if you are a writer and don't have the immediate crush of people congratulating you on a performance and reminding you of who you normally are. If you aren't paying attention, you can go the rest of your day/night/life, not ever thinking about the self you left behind in order to do your work. (and when i say you, i mean me...)

Part of me knows so strongly that I have a trans streak running thru me because I will write about a boy character in order to feel myself in his body and interacting with other characters as him. If i'm not careful I find myself being a little too 'method' with my writing and refusing to take off, say, my Hamlet nature even after i've finished writing. I'll just stay inside him as I make myself lunch, or even go to the coffee shop, just to feel what it's like to be him in the world. This is actually a great writing (and acting) exercise when it doesn't sound creepy and full of Gender Identity Disorder baggage (like it does here).

Thing is, if you live too long inside a character, you start to lose your sense of who you are when you aren't playing a role. (again, kinda like Alice Sheldon.) Or you have no self left to come back to when you have taken off a character. This might sound weird, but it's true that I've actually wished at times that I could be as devoid of identity as possible when not “playing” a role. I've thought about that trend in theatre where it was cool to have everyone dress all in black as if there was no other entity beyond the role and the words. As if the actor didn't really exist. I liked this idea only because it seemed to show that any role could be played by anybody, and the audience's job was to fill in the specificity necessary to fully realize the character by watching the way the actor played the role. I think it would be a worthy place to start from. To be seen as indistinctly as possible, and for people to only take my words and deeds as the information with which to understand me. This is definitely how I want to come at all my projects, from a place that is as neutral as possible.

But i've also wanted to come at my life that way. I've wanted that badly to not take sides in identity struggles (any and all of them). To just be seen as a person. Nothing else. Age, race, hair/eye color, gender, personality, sexuality, rationality, all of these boxes unchecked. An undressed paper doll. If I could go thru life like that—unclassified--i could feel limitless in my choices for characters to put on and “play” (on paper and in life). But alas, I have a type. In fact, I type-cast myself. And I realize the more I write, that I type-cast myself in roles closer and closer to how I want to be seen by others in real life. Not all writers do this, but it's already something that the public's imagination does to them. Hence why so many women writers, specifically ones that write male characters, no matter their identity politics, choose to use pen names or simply their initials so as not to have the reader assume that the gender of the narrator is the gender of the author. Or to at least assume the correct gender (for the narrator, if not the author) when doing so.

Cuz this is a risk one takes as an author, and an actor, that you as a person will be identified as having characteristics close to that of your characters. Again, this is why I love Nabokov so much. He wrote Humbert Humbert with full knowledge of this phenomenon. I assume this is because he knew that the kind of reader he wanted for Lolita was the kind that would end up in love with Humbert and forgive him his trespasses, thereby keeping their respect for Nabokov alive and well. [Mr. Humbert footnote here]

Tho, maybe it only works on those of us who are willing and able to be taken in. which I am. Which I almost pride myself in being—if I am anything in this (literary, theatrical, human) world, I am a generous audience. And therefore, I am somewhat gullible. This could be because I am continually on the lookout for a new identity to sink my little black-clad, nondescript self into. To swim around in and get the feel for. I've been doing this all my life and I can swear to you that at least the majority of my motivation has absolutely nothing to do with my self-esteem. It am not unhappy as myself. I am not trying to get away from my own personality. I'm simply trying to get away from any unwanted identifying markers on my self. And attempting to try on as many various, more comfortable selves as possible. So much for simply working on a gender spectrum; we are not dealing with lines, we aren't even in a 360 situation. I'm talking about being fully in the realm of at least three dimensions, wanting to be able to identify on any level as anything. An identity sphere.

This is why I watch movies. And plays. And why, you guessed it, I tend to latch on to actors (thru the characters they play) such as j. depp, r. phoenix, j. gordon-levitt, c. bale, e. wood, d. tennant and the like. The selves they take on are engrossing to me mostly because they are the closest i've found to the kinds of characters I would wish to 'play'. But also, how they take these characters on is what I pay so damned much attention to, as a connoisseur of the craft. 'What is it about that performance that made me believe so strongly in it and be so enamored with the character he just played?' I dissect these performances like I have done with Nabokov's characterization of Mr. Humbert [ibid footnote], because like i said, it's all the same skill.

[And yes, i admit the study of these actors entails the FUBU dilemma. Because, of course I find them attractive, but promise you I wouldn't if they weren't good at their job (case in point: I both hate keanu and think he is really gross. because he gives me nothing, i think he is ugly as sin). But yes, the FUBU dilemma = am I attracted to you because I want to fuck you, or because I want to be you? (or, for Sinatra fans, the 'do-be-do-be-do' problem) And, yes, a lot of times the answer is a little of column a, little of column b, but i'm noticing more and more that column b wins out.]

Cuz the thing I really want to do with these guys is to compare notes. To check my blueprints against theirs. [sound familiar?] this is how I would have gotten there, is that what you did? Teach me how to you see this working. What shape is your foundation, why those pillars, stones, arches, that decorative cornice? How is it I can become you for a time, and how long can you be on loan for? (how else does one learn to be a man, except like this?)

And this, my friends, is why I generally refrain from looking in the mirror. (and, incidentally, why I have taken to using images of my actor-mentors as fb avatars. Cuz at this point, they feel more familiar than my own face.)