Friday, December 16, 2022
Saturday, April 30, 2022
The difficulty distinguishing between instinctual good advice and fear of failure
I went to a Stanley Kubrick exhibition in LACMA once and the one thing that really stuck with me was a piece of advice he was giving to somebody which was to beware of running with your first ideas about something. He likend it to a game of chess where one must play out each potential move in his head over and over before executing it. At first I thought to myself, surely some ideas just come instinctively, but as I've grown and had more experience writing I've come to understand what he meant. Our ego is forever trying to find the easiest answer. Over and over again I find myself trying to solve a problem in a script that I'm writing, and I have an idea, and I'm off to the races with it, thinking it's been solved, but something is niggling at me, somewhere deep down below language, something I'm ignoring knows that in two months time this problem will resurface due to the band aid I consciously put over it. And it's training myself to recognise this feeling, or alarm, that is very much intangible because you cannot get at it with language, that is the difficulty.
When your inner critic causes hesitation, it's usually easy enough to distinguish as it's probably laced with negativity, but when your instincts are nagging at you, it can be a lot harder to define. Negative thoughts about something can usually be understood as egocentric; they're trying to protect you from some sort of failure, but, as hard as it is to detach yourself from the ego, it can be a lot harder to catch a hold of the wise old man living in your gut.
Right now I'm trying to write a feature film and I'm having an extremely hard time articulating my vision, so much so, that I've had to take a break from it because it was generating so much negative thoughts that I've been considering giving up on it all together. That would make it my third abandoned feature script - a scary thought that if fed could potentially evolve into one that indicates that the task is above my scope and that urges me to give up on it, so, we won't go down that road. Instead, we'll write everything down in a blog post that nobody will read, just for some personal therapy.
See some days if I read my work I feel sick in my stomach and internally I'm telling myself that this is absolute shit and nobody will ever like it, but another day, reading the same work, I'll declare myself a genius! So from experience I know that I'm sometimes just not in the mood and should do something else but it's very hard to shake off that negative feeling, remain positive, and start fresh the next time.
Every artist has learned over time that you have to ignore your inner critic or you won't get anything shipped, but, you also have to listen to that other voice that's telling you you're running away with yourself. I feel like you see this in many established successful artists, who, after having done incredible work in their earlier years, then, seem to phone it in for the rest of their lives. I used to think that was because when you're really successful, you're surrounded by 'Yes Men' who'll never be honest with you, and, I'd swear to myself that if I ever got to that position I wouldn't let it happen to me, but, now, I'm thinking that the 'Yes Men' might just be inside of you and were there all of the time, you were just a lot better at recognising them when you were more determined to make it.
So let's, for now, call these yes men; The Schoolboys, standing around waiting for something to cheer for, and then that will leave us with a need to name the other wiser aspects of your mind. Maybe we should call them Stanley, for the sake of a circular narrative. Well the thing is that Stanley's not going to shout. Stanley's learned that shouting is heard, but rarely listened to, so, we're going to have to be patient and wait for the noise to die down, before Stanley will tell us what he thinks of our new idea.
Alright, I think we're ready to get stuck back in.
Thursday, November 18, 2021
Somebody dishonest wants praise and somebody incapable wants to help
"Thank God your parents aren’t the only audience in the world. Go out and get professional option, ask friends and strangers. One of the things I found about very creative and talented people, people around them tend not to appreciated their talents until strangers do. Don’t get discourage, just try other people"
This is a direct, unedited, quote that I pulled from an internet forum while trying to figure out a certain phenomena that's been bugging me for quite a while now. It's the strange habit that we succumb to when presented with our loved ones' artistic ideas or creations, especially when the works are in their infancy. We obliviously say something so insensitive and hurtful that the artist will vow to never ask our opinion again.
So if we're not ready for somebody to pick holes in what we've done then why are we showing it off? Maybe because we feel we are revealing our babies in a safe space. That's the major mistake we make because our loved one also knows this, and they'll instinctively become harsher with their criticism, as if to prepare us for the brutal and severe realty of the outside world. Here's the problem, especially for the timid young artist just beginning to find themselves, most ideas, though promising, are likely to fall apart with some rigid scrutiny, and need to be considered for many, many hours before becoming palatable for it's audience, and harsh criticism at this early stage can just evaporate the concept right there and then.
Wednesday, March 31, 2021
How de Beauvoir saved my sex life
Sunday, March 15, 2020
Patience, attention and participation (This one's a bit woo)
It sometimes happens that I'll be in a specific place and a memory of another unrelated place will bubble up into my mind. This phenomenon sometimes repeats itself at a specific place and no matter how much analysis I give it, no matter how much I try to find some kind of link between them, I can't for the life of me figure out why it's happening. If I was to guess why it happens, I'd say it's some kind of unconscious emotional resonance; some way I felt at that first particular place is recurring in the new place and the associated visual experience is accompanying it. Now obviously an actor might not hold any weight when arguing in the frontier of neuroscientific debate, but this sole experience solidifies my opinion that we are barely conscious most of the time.
I recently said to somebody that I was working on expanding my consciousness and was stopped and loftily asked to explain the statement. When I began I was interrupted and the subject was quickly changed. The truth is that it was far too woo for lunchtime discussion, but, If I had been able to unpack it, I would've given an example of when you enter a room and feel like something is wrong. You don't know what it is but every part of you is telling you to leave. It's only afterwards, upon reflection, that you start to put together what was wrong about the situation or event that you skillfully avoided. These were your instincts, basically unconscious recognition, saving your ass from something unfavorable. As a vital part of evolution we can sometimes have signals enter our eyes and bypass our visual cortex going straight to the amygdala so we know to get the fuck out of there immediately! The fact that our visual perception of something would slow us down and maybe even get us killed is so fascinating to me. What other aspects of our lives are limited by our eyes?
Over the last couple of years I've started suffering from postural hypertension. When I get up too quickly enough blood doesn't make it to my head and I start to loose control of my senses. I feel a tingling sensation come over me, my vision, hearing and my balance go and I'll usually have to grab something or I'll fall over. The funny thing about this scenario is that even though all my external senses are failing I still feel one hundred percent conscious. I feel like i'm going somewhere else, like I've stepped into another room for a bit. I've had my doubts about mind body dualism over the recent years. I was brought up catholic and conditioned into thinking that my soul will go somewhere after my body fails, but as that dogma couldn't withstand intellectual scrutiny, I began to search Philosophy and Neuroscience for answers eventually settling on monism; the idea that your consciousness is generated somehow by your brain and will end when it stops functioning. These bouts of hypertension leave me unsure again.
When I was a child I paid great attention to the things around me, but as I matured, and thus accumulated more responsibilities, I began a process of evaluation that consumed more and more of my mental energy, narrowing my attention to a sort of tunnel vision, a beam with some plan at the end of it. Now, hopefully somewhere around the midpoint of my life, I'm trying to shed this self evaluation and smell the roses because otherwise I'm left needlessly carrying around a self inflicted anxiety. Mindfulness, you say, and yes, that's exactly it, but, 80% of the time I spend meditating consists of me trying to justify why it is that I meditate. And these thoughts don't go anywhere unless I write them down, and, there's not really much point in writing something down unless somebody else is going to read it, so, thank you.
Sunday, June 30, 2019
This post won't make me any friends...
The fact that I don't drink was never an issue in America, but, as the old stereotypes will tell you, it has been one in Ireland. My true feelings are that alcohol is a social tool for the average Irish person. We're known across the world for being uber-friendly but I think it's a surface reality only. Growing up, if I had a problem that I needed to discuss with somebody, it would be done over pints. We can't really open up and feel comfortable until we've a few on board, and this is dangerous because we ultimately associate the two. I think the high level of alcoholism in Ireland is because we can't really feel like ourselves unless we've pacified that reproachful monster in our brains.
If I'm organizing a social gathering with some new friends and I ask them out for pints, somewhere along the way I'll tell them that I don't drink. That's when the awkwardness sets in. They wonder what I'm going to do for two or three hours sitting in front of a sparkling water as if the alcohol was the company and not them. And I think that it runs deeper than that. I think that really, they are worried that they'll be letting their guard down and I'll have mine up and that they may be exposed. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system making people feel more at ease with themselves but when you take alcohol out of the equation you learn to get over that wall all by yourself. I remember feeling not quite relaxed at certain social gatherings until I'd had two or three drinks now that feeling lasts only seconds.
Hangovers are something I'll never miss. Not just the physical effects but the psychological ones two. The fear and anxiety caused by a dip in neurochemicals the next day might be outweighed by the benefit of a super fun night, but, when you find yourself shouting at your phone three or four days later that's when you see the real downside of alcohol. We tend to think the effects are confined to the proceeding day but the reality is they run far into the next week. This short tempered impatience and general mind fog are detrimental to a persons happiness especially if they're not too fond of their job and would find it difficult to get through a week with pure equanimity. And unfortunately this turns into a cycle of self destruction because, as we all know, the only way to get over a hard week is to spend the weekend drinking!
My family, I suppose, are like any big family; full of deep seated resentments and conflicts with each other and when we get together and sail through the pleasantry's and first few drinks that's when the true feelings start to surface. These Ill feelings which should've been addressed directly long before over coffee have a habit of popping up with great surprise and seemingly out of the blue. This then causes the accused the become defensive immediately and a row almost always ensues. It's not like it's directly responsible for my family's wounds but rubbing alcohol into them certainly doesn't help.
Another reason I might be terrified at the thought of jumping off the wagon is that I may then loose interest in meditating. The shift in my state of mind when meditating is far less than that of a few drinks but the long term benefits between the two practices are not even comparable. And really who's going to sit down for ten minutes with the intention of listening to their body when they're doing their best to ignore their complaining liver?
I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't become one of those 'holier than thou' assheads who preach about how life is better without alcohol,but, when I consistently see my closest friends promise themselves, whilst hungover, that they'll never touch the drink again and then the quick glimpse of shame when I see them a day or two later, drink in hand, I know that I've made the right decision. The thing about the cave analogy is that when the remainers hear what the leaver has supposedly learned, they think he's nuts, so I guess I'll just have to grin and bear the bewildered faces each time I'm asked "What''ll ya have?"
Wednesday, May 22, 2019
My Psoriasis Crisis
Sometimes I can look at a patch somewhere on my body, and almost by sheer will, I can make it worse. It's as if my skin is trying to communicate with me. Psoriasis is a physical manifestation of a psychological problem. It took me a long time to realize that and I got no help from the medical system.
Upon my last and final visit to the dermatologist, having tried dietary restrictions, topical steroid creams, and, UV light therapy, all of which were unsuccessful, I asked my doctor what was next, and he told me about a new medication from the USA that would slow down my skin cell reproductive system, but, it would put my at high risk of getting lymphatic cancer. I asked why the hell I'd sign up for something like that and he replied; "It depends on how long you want to live". So basically, do i live a short life, comfortably free to take my shirt off ? Or, do I live a long life looking like I just got into a naked motorcycle accident? There's no cure for psoriasis. I left that clinic wondering how it's possible that we can replace a persons heart but we can't cure a miserable skin rash.
When I was in the third year of my electrical apprenticeship, I was working in a pharmaceutical factory. This was a point in my life where my psoriasis was at it's worst, and coincidentally it would seem, when I was pretty fuckin' miserable with my own existence. For you see, I wanted to be an actor, but a 'Plan B' seemed like a good idea at the time. My skin got so bad that I had to become an in-patient at a hospital for two weeks of treatment. It cleared up in this time but returned shortly after I went back to work. I managed to get myself fired from that job and my skin's never been as bad since.
It always lowered my confidence. Throughout my late teens and early twenties I was terrified at the thought of getting naked with a girl. As I got older, and began to realize that most women aren't so superficial and are more impressed by a guy's vitality, it then became more about awkward conversation starters, and how no matter what predetermined response I spewed out, they'd still look embarrassed for bringing it up. After a while I then began to view it as exactly that; their embarrassment, not mine. I was starting to accept this part of me. I would be the guy with the patchy skin. So I started trying to get people to notice it, by flaunting it, but then a funny thing happened, it began to get better. This was the moment when I decided that the first step is acceptance. This is a hard concept to swallow. It's like somebody saying; "Don't worry about it", but, that's not what I'm saying. My body tells me when I'm unhappy about something. That's what I'm accepting. We have an abundance of shit going on in our lives, and, our conscious minds struggle to scrutinize it all. I believe that our bodies will try to tell us when some of that shit is toxic.
I started meditating in my mid thirties. This is when I saw the most improvement in my skin. Meditation slows down cognitive noise for me, stuff I'm carrying round in my head all day, and sometimes reveals deep seated thoughts. The kind of thoughts that are so subtle that you might've been using your neck muscles rather than your brain to house them. It certainly put me further in touch with my body, and I believe this let my body know it doesn't need to shout for my attention anymore.
Even though we are in the midst of a scientific revolution, we still can't shake off preconceived 'age of enlightenment era notions' like mind body dualism and our medical practitioners like to see empirical evidence before they'll get behind an idea that a skin disorder begins with one's mind. But, if you're dealing with it, maybe go see a psychologist, or try some meditation, or get more sleep or just stop and ask yourself; "What am I not dealing with?" Either that or get those drugs and maybe lymphatic cancer!
I feel like my world is narrowing. Moments of reflection and inspiration are becoming few and far between. Engaging with nature doesn't ...
I went to a Stanley Kubrick exhibition in LACMA once and the one thing that really stuck with me was a piece of advice he was giving to some...
When people used to say to me that a certain actor has great presence, I never really knew what it meant. I guess I just looked at it objec...
Having just reached a little over a year since my return to Ireland I’m starting to feel like the string that’s tied between a balloon and ...