“We hear “do what you love” so often from those few people who it did work for, for whom the stars aligned, and from them it sounds like good advice. They’re successful, aren’t they? If we follow their advice, we’ll be successful, too! […] We rarely hear the advice of the person who did what they loved and stayed poor or was horribly injured for it. Professional gamblers, stuntmen, washed up cartoonists like myself: we don’t give speeches at corporate events. We aren’t paid to go to the World Domination Summit and make people feel bad. We don’t land book deals or speak on Good Morning America.”—Rachel Nabors, “DON’T do what you love”
“Humor is an antidote to — or at least an analgesic for — a condition we’re all suffering from. I would call this condition clarity, not depression; humor and depression are two different, but not mutually exclusive, responses to it. I know we’re told to regard depression as a disease, its victims no different from people who succumb to cancer or diabetes. But because it’s a disease whose symptoms take the shape of ideas, it can get hard to parse out pathology from worldview. The Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert once told me that “there are people who have no delusions; they’re called clinically depressed.” Depression’s insights aren’t necessarily invalid; they’re just not helpful. Depression uses clarity as an instrument of torture; humor uses it as a setup. Comedy tells us, “But wait — that’s not the good part.” Depression condemns the world, and us, as hateful; laughter is a way of forgiving it, and ourselves, for being so.”—Tim Kreider on the death of Robin Williams
Chana Joffe: Step into their world was a familiar phrase to Karen from the many nights she had spent doing improv comedy. She and her husband are actors. Step into their world is a mantra in improv. You walk on stage, another actor says something, and you step into their world, whatever world they’ve just created. You don’t ever say no. You don’t question their premise. You just say yes. And—
Karen: I didn’t even see it. I didn’t see the whole parallels of improv and Alzheimer’s. And when I did, it with just so obvious. It’s a whole “yes, and” world.
Chana Joffe: If all you’ve got is “yes, and,” you can’t say things like, but you don’t even like pickles, or, you don’t have a sister, Mom. You don’t tell someone they’re wrong, which Karen says is exactly what you always want to do. When her mom says she wants to go home, the most natural response is—
Karen: Oh, but this is your home now, Virginia. Come let me show you your room. But this woman is looking at you saying, I want to go home. And you’re telling her she lives here. So now you’re telling her she’s a liar. You’re going to see her little veins start popping out in her neck and her little fists. But if you look at her and you say— she says, I want to go home. Yes, and tell me about your home.
Chana Joffe: Now she’s not a liar anymore. Karen felt like she’d discovered an instruction manual.
“This is the argument that I always feel like never gets as much traction as the ‘tortured artist’ argument, [which] is that artists actually have it a little easier because everybody fucking suffers but artists have something to do with it.”—Jeff Tweedy
Child in the womb,
Or saint on a tomb —
Which way shall I lie
To fall asleep?
The keen moon stares
From the back of the sky,
The clouds are all home
Like driven sheep.
Bright drops of time,
One and two chime,
I turn and lie straight
With folded hands;
They choose this state,
And their minds are wiped calm
As sea-leveled sands.
So my thoughts are:
But sleep stays as far,
Till I crouch on one side
Like a foetus again —
For sleeping, like death,
Must be won without pride,
With a nod from nature,
And a lack of strain,
And a loss of stature.
I’ve yet to watch the the BBC’s The Vivian Maier Mystery or Finding Vivian Maier, but, of course, since she’s an artist who didn’t show her work during her lifetime and has now been built into a kind of mythical figure, she’s of great interest to me. (I’m a little embarrassed to look and see the only thing of hers I’ve posted here are her selfies.)
Because Maier left no will or instructions on what she wanted done with her work, her intentions—and the image of her presented to the outside world—are in the hands of anyone that takes an interest in her story…
….There has never been a discovery quite like Vivian Maier and there may never be one quite like her again. Everyone who happens upon it can find a piece or an angle that appeals or that they can identify with. The kind of privacy she kept to do her work may never be possible again in our over-surveilled age. To make a lifetime’s body of work and not share it with anyone is anathema to our times and that makes it that much more attractive. Why didn’t she show someone what she spent every free waking moment doing?
Dmitry brings up lots of interesting issues. For example: her prints. Maier seemed to be less interested in printing or showing her work, than actually doing the work. (“By all accounts, she spent every spare cent on the next roll of film, chasing the next shot rather than reveling in what she already had.”) Here’s a comparison between one of her original prints and an uncropped print done posthumously:
As he was researching, Dmitry also collected links to piece on Maier, which can be found here. Spolia also has collected a bunch of perspectives in this post.
Thanks again to Dmitry for sending me down this rabbit hole!
“I don’t want input, I don’t want you to tell me if I’m doing anything wrong, heavens forbid. But I write a scene, and I think I’ve heard it as much as I can, but then when I read it to you … I hear it through your ears, and it lets me know I’m on the right track.”—Quentin Tarantino
“Because we are laughed at, I don’t think people really understand how essential [comedians] are to their sanity. If it weren’t for the brief respite we give the world with our foolishness, the world would see mass suicide in numbers that compare favorably with the death rate of the lemmings. I’m sure most of you have heard the story of the man who, desperately ill, goes to an analyst and tells the doctor that he has lost his desire to live and that is seriously considering suicide. The doctor listens to his tale of melancholia and then tells the patient that what he needs is a good belly laugh. He then advises the unhappy man to go to the circus that night and spend the evening laughing at Grock, the world’s funniest clown. The doctor sums it up, “After you have seen Grock, I am sure you will be much happier.” The patient rises to his feet, looks sadly at the doctor, turns and ambles toward the door. As he starts to leave the doctor says, “By the way, what is your name?” The man turns and regards the analyst with sorrowful eyes. “I am Grock.””—Groucho Marx, Groucho And Me
“Get someone else to read your story to you. Many say read your work out loud and this does help but I believe you still hear in your head what you wanted to write. When someone else reads it you stop hearing what you wanted to say and hear exactly what you’ve written.”—Paul McVeigh
“When you are at a party and are thrust into conversation with someone, see how long you can hold off before talking about what they do for a living. And when that painful lull arrives, be the master of it. I have come to revel in that agonizing first pause, because I know that I can push a conversation through. Just ask the other person what they do, and right after they tell you, say: “Wow. That sounds hard.” Because nearly everyone in the world believes their job to be difficult. I once went to a party and met a very beautiful woman whose job was to help celebrities wear Harry Winston jewelry. I could tell that she was disappointed to be introduced to this rumpled giant in an off-brand shirt, but when I told her that her job sounded difficult to me she brightened and spoke for 30 straight minutes about sapphires and Jessica Simpson. She kept touching me as she talked. I forgave her for that. I didn’t reveal a single detail about myself, including my name. Eventually someone pulled me back into the party. The celebrity jewelry coordinator smiled and grabbed my hand and said, “I like you!” She seemed so relieved to have unburdened herself. I counted it as a great accomplishment. Maybe a hundred times since I’ve said, “wow, that sounds hard” to a stranger, always to great effect. I stay home with my kids and have no life left to me, so take this party trick, my gift to you.”—Paul Ford, “How to Be Polite”