“There is something about yourself that you don’t know. Something that you will deny even exists until it’s too late to do anything about it. It’s the only reason you get up in the morning, the only reason you suffer the shitty boss, the blood, the sweat and the tears. This is because you want people to know how good, attractive, generous, funny, wild and clever you really are. “Fear or revere me, but please think I’m special.” We share an addiction. We’re approval junkies. We’re all in it for the slap on the back and the gold watch. The “hip, hip, hoo-fucking-rah.” Look at the clever boy with the badge, polishing his trophy. Shine on, you crazy diamond. Cos we’re just monkeys wrapped in suits, begging for the approval of others.” ~ Jake Green, from the film Revolver, 2005
I’m still working this out so bear with me. I’ve been doing battle with my ego for years, without realizing that’s what it was. My “ego” has been trying not to die. My ego, has been trying to rule, and to run me, my true self, right into the ground. There’s who we are, and then there’s our ego, or persona. Your persona… you think it’s you, but it isn’t you. That’s a not quite paraphrased line from a movie, the film, “Revolver”, that I’ll get to in a minute. First, a couple of examples of pronounced personas.
Let’s start with actress Joan Crawford. Ms. Crawford was quoted as having said, “I don’t go outside unless I look like Joan Crawford, the movie star. If you want to see the girl next door, go next door.” Joan Crawford was born Lucille Fay LeSueur. Her self-discipline and will power became the stuff of legend, good, bad, or otherwise, this was one tough woman. Crawford, I think, ultimately completely became her persona, for better or worse, buying into it the mask of “Joan Crawford, movie star” completely. Allowing the wolf that was her persona to devour who she’d began life as, or perhaps, who she began life as, ate the wolf of the persona and became that wolf. None the less, the driving force beneath Joan Crawford, buried however deeply, was someone who didn’t want to be Lucille Fay LeSueur.
“They taught me to be afraid of wolves, you know? All of those things that they say about crying wolf and the wolf at the door. And then one day it was. And I shattered and I shook and I fell. Then I got up and I transcended the wolf, and I ate the wolf, and I became the wolf.” ~ Teri Skultety I wrote that snippet at the beginning of the re-telling of the legend of two wolves, without quite understanding what it was I’d tapped into, about the ego.
Another example of pronounced persona is Marilyn Monroe. Born Norma Jeane Mortenson, Marilyn Monroe was painfully aware of her own persona. I read a story about Marilyn Monroe that I think is really quite astonishing. At the height of her fame, Marilyn was in Central Park sitting with a friend, talking. She was wearing regular, everyday, clothes, pants, a shirt, flat shoes, a coat, sunglasses, with a scarf tied around her hair, and no one recognized her. I want to say she with Susan Strasberg, or someone she knew through the Strasbergs, but that may not be correct, and I don’t recall where I read this story though it was in an interview. So, no one recognized her, and the person she was with commented on that. Marilyn said she frequently went out for walks and went places around the city unrecognized, then she said that she could turn it on and off, her persona. She then told the friend she would demonstrate. Allegedly, she took off her sunglasses and her scarf, stood up straight, walked a few feet away, moved like “Marilyn”, and was instantly recognized and swarmed with autograph seekers. She understood the difference between who she really was, and “Marilyn, the movie star.” I happen to think that shows some next level intelligence. Yet, that understanding of herself wasn’t enough for her to be able to free herself from the persona of Marilyn Monroe, so that Norma Jeane could find real fulfillment and happiness. The autograph seekers fed the ego, persona, of the movie star, Marilyn. But, Norma Jeane always knew that wasn’t her true self, so no matter how much attention “Marilyn” got, it didn’t “feed” Norma Jeane.
Actress Rita Hayworth, born Margarita Carmen Cansino, once said, of her verses her persona, “They fell in love with Gilda and woke up with me.”
My ego, persona, has been trying not to die, on the run from me, ultimately on the run from itself, for years. The intricacies of all that are pretty individually complicated, while at the same time not being all that different from any other person struggling with such. Part of that was I realized I’d been writing about things I previously had no interest in, to prove my depth of knowledge on whatever the subject was. My ego, wants you to know how smart it is, how much it knows. Ironic. There are other things, far more personal, that my ego got itself tangled up in, things I was prideful about, if only to myself, without ever realizing that to be the case, until whatever it was I was “priding myself” on, came apart. Now, contrarily, there have been times in my life, long periods of time, when my ego was pretty well in check and wasn’t getting the better of me. I feel kind lucky about that because that’s provided a contrast for my ego trying to run the show. You know? Like, I could look at things and say to myself, “But I didn’t used to be like that. That’s not like me. Where is this coming from? Why am I making lists of horror movies when really I don’t much care for them most of the time? When I don’t care for the glorification of gratuitous violence or the pretending at it? (Saying that may seem to complicate certain issues of story telling or writing, but if I dig a little deeper and ask myself, why did I write certain things the answer comes back… because I wanted to see if I could do it, because I wanted to prove, if only to myself, that I could… why then that… because of my EGO.) Why did I get all churchy? Etc., Etc., Etc.” Like I said, its been a bunch of different things that I’m still working through. My ego was so huge about some things, and really actually so smart, that it had me convinced it didn’t even exist. My true self was underneath, slowly beginning to fade, while still trying to fight back. I’d see glimpses of “the real me” reflected in other things, in other people, and try to hang onto whatever it was. Some part of me would say, “That’s me!” And my ego would say, “No, it isn’t. I’m you. And you can’t have that anymore.” But, enough about me, specifically.
I’d previously mentioned the film, “The Prestige”, starring Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Piper Paraboo, Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall, and David Bowie, as Nikola Tesla. The film is about two magicians who begin as friends and become so consumed by competitiveness, that it destroys their lives. They become consumed by ego gratification to the extermination of their true selves. It’s a wonderfully told tale, a fine example and illustration, of what happens when the persona devours the person. It’s also a good story. Bowie as Tesla is, I think, perfectly cast. Which brings me to something else along these lines, say Tesla verses Edison?
“There is something about yourself that you don’t know. Something that you will deny even exists until it’s too late to do anything about it. It’s the only reason you get up in the morning, the only reason you suffer the shitty boss, the blood, the sweat and the tears. This is because you want people to know how good, attractive, generous, funny, wild and clever you really are. “Fear or revere me, but please think I’m special.” We share an addiction. We’re approval junkies. We’re all in it for the slap on the back and the gold watch. The “hip, hip, hoo-fucking-rah.” Look at the clever boy with the badge, polishing his trophy. Shine on, you crazy diamond. Cos we’re just monkeys wrapped in suits, begging for the approval of others.”~ Jake Green, from the film Revolver, 2005
“You think it’s you, but it isn’t you.”
“It’s where you don’t want to go.”
This film, Revolver, co-written by Guy Ritchie and Luc Besson, is completely brilliant. It’s a good story. It’s incredibly well done. It is enlightening. I didn’t want to watch it, I can’t believe I didn’t watch it sooner, and I pretty sure I’m going to watch it again. It’s a crime story, but it’s about ego. Fantastic performances. Ray Liotta has a scene in this, near the end of the film, that might be his best performance.
I watched this film after a trip to the mountains, that was perspective altering in and of itself. I’ll write about that as soon as I’ve got time. It was interesting to me because generally, I haven’t always liked to go up to the mountains, or, I thought I didn’t, or some part of me didn’t, but it seemed to me that I used to, or..something… and then I watched this film, and that made a lot more sense. My ego didn’t want to go to the mountains. Like I said, I’ll get to that. Until then, if you’re looking for insight into the ego, this film was certainly helpful to me.
These quotes, from these learned folks, are at the end of the film, Revolver. So, if you decide to watch the film, keep watching so you don’t miss these bits in context.
I was thinking, the ego, persona, is the mask we wear, or like a bride wearing a veil. The trouble with that is, such things obstruct one’s view. Perhaps sometimes we don’t want to see clearly, or be seen clearly, but certainly, the ego that tells us it is protecting us by hampering that view, doesn’t want us to see, or we might discover its ruse.
I’m still making changes, winnowing. I’ve deactivated my twitter account. I may reactive it. Right now I’m contemplating why I ever had a twitter account to begin with. I’m contemplating what I want to be focused on giving my energy to. I told myself it was about promoting my writing (ego), and that it was because I wanted to keep up with, follow, some of the work of others (true), but I don’t know that it was serving either of those purposes particularly well. I do know it was distracting. Winnowing.
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”