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9:54 pm - 01.15.2011
\"Resonating\" With George Carlin

"Resonating" With George Carlin

In my last email to Jane, I told her I'd recently read George Carlin's book, Last Words, and how a couple things in the book really "resonated" with me:

Maybe it wasn't belonging I longed for so much as being able to fulfill my proper role. I wasn't doing my job. I wasn't using my mind to produce the external evidence of my inner state.

It always seemed to me that the reasons groups got together was superficial. The group didn't feed me and I had nothing to contribute to it. I had a deeper goal, this giant puzzle to work on, which was only going to happen if they left me alone. "No one but me can figure me out. No one can help me with it." All the group stuff: rules, uniforms, rituals, bonding, was a distraction. It denied me the chance to solve the giant puzzle: "Who the fuck am I, how did I come together? What are the parts and how do they fit?"

And as I was leafing through the book to find those two bits, I noticed I'd highlighted another bit, earlier in the book, that "resonated" with me as well.

Later I came to realize the oddness of choosing to be, and feeling, apart from people and at the same time dying to be accepted. Longing to be accepted, to be asked in. But on my terms.

Actually, as I read over the three things I've quoted from the book, it's this last bit that feels most like something I could have written in here, word-for-word.

I've been aware of that "inner conflict" for a long time. And I'm guessing that's, at least in part, the genesis of Carlin's comedy, and of my desire to act - that desire to be loved and accepted by the group, while at the same time, standing apart from the group, and "being your own person".

It might sound strange, to describe acting as "being your own person", when your job is not to be "You", but to play a role. But I'd say I've expressed more facets of myself through the roles I've played (At least prior to LA) than I've ever had the opportunity to express in real life.

Sadly, I'm afraid feeling that I'm here and "the group" is there, that I am "different" (And am decidedly ambivalent about that difference - sometimes it's a good thing, and sometimes not so much), is what has kept me and "the group" at a distance.

Thinking you're not part of things makes you not a part of things. And it doesn't matter, I don't think, if it's because you think you're too good to be part of "the group"...or not good enough.

(My "theory of ambivalence" - I've told people that the reason I feel like I will succeed, at least to some extent, as an actor, is that it's the one thing I don't feel "ambivalent" about - I know that I want what I want, and I don't see any downside to getting it...unlike success "in the real world", romantic relationships, etc.)

In the first bit I quoted, I related to "longing to fulfill my proper role" and "using my mind to produce external evidence of my internal state".

I'm not 100% certain I long for that more than I long to be part of "the group" - though I see where you could make that argument based on how I've lived most of my life - but it's definitely a powerful element of my psyche.

It's one of the reasons I get frustrated about where I'm at as an actor out here in LA - I think I really do long to "produce external evidence of my internal state" through the roles I play...and if that's ever gonna happen, it sure as shit ain't happening yet.

(And sometimes I think, "If that's what you wanted, Jim, you should have stayed in Lansing, where you only auditioned for things you were excited about, for roles that had something in them that 'spoke to you'". But on the other hand, while I think I do want that out of acting, that's not all I want out of acting.)

But where that sentiment resonates with me - that if I'm not "expressing myself" I'm not doing my job - even more than acting, is when it comes to...this.

I have journals I wrote 15 or 20 years ago where I express a great deal of frustration with how I write, and how "honest" I'm being.

And if anything, that frustration was multiplied tenfold when I first went online. I continually worry that I'm "not being honest", that I'm "prettying things up", sometimes putting on a happier face than I'm really feeling because I think people will be "turned off" if I "let it all hang out" emotionally.

(And really, I'm not even talking about just playing down my depressive side; it's occurred to me, more than once, that I'm much more comfortable putting myself down than in crowing about myself in here.)

30 years of journal writing have certainly made me a better stylist than I used to be - Trust me, whatever you think of my writing style, it used to be much worse - but I'm not always sure I've become a better "journaler".
And it goes back to that Carlin sentiment - the feeling that "I'm not doing my job", that I'm failing because I'm not "creating the external evidence of my internal state". That instead, I'm shading things a bit to make myself seem better, or to not upset or alarm anyone, or even, perhaps,sometimes writing how I wish I felt instead of how I actually feel.

Or simply not writing about some things at all.

The second thing I quoted, about his feeling that groups are "superficial" and the "big puzzle" in his life was trying to figure himself out?

Again, while I don't know if I feel as strongly as he did that groups are "superficial" and a "distraction" - though certainly many are - I have definitely come to feel like the main task of my life is, essentially, to "solve the puzzle" that is Jim Hoffmaster.

But that is a puzzle that's not going to be solved in one night, or in one journal entry...

Well, this isn't exactly what I sat down to write tonight, but it was something I've thought about writing for awhile.

And the "other thing" will keep.

Cause I've made notes.


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