0009 – Acting and Holding

Kistefoss museum, May 2020

The building opposite ours is green. It’s at least seven stories high and at the very left there’s a balcony adorned with solar panels. I love seeing things like that because it shows that someone put effort into measuring and wiring up those things. It’s a touch of humanity. Someone was there, they did something.

I think the same thing of some digital artifacts like my favourite websites: hundredrabbits (https://100r.co/site/home.html) or gwern (https://gwern.net/) someone has been here. Someone has lived this, someone has documented this.

I wonder how it will be different in the age of consumer AI. We can generate seemingly endless amounts of text and ideas. How will we know what is real. What is worth it. I’ve always heard that the answer lies in curation. That maybe the real way to find out what is worth listening to or reading or anything is who recommends it, not which algorithm. Kind of like how my old friend picked up Chip War from the blog post when I was in Hamburg.

I think of that youtube series “what’s in my bag” where artists talk about different records that have inspired them. When we are drowning in a sea of content, it is other people that can help us navigate.

Then there’s the flip side of it. How much content do we need to consume before we start producing. Life is about balance. I think constant consumption leaves us numb and almost sick. At least it does that for me. I’ve felt a lot better since I’ve started writing again.

I watched Henry Rollin’s Provoke last night, a DVD rip from his spoken word show in Melbourne in 2008. He spoke like a machine gun for three and a half hours. I counted maybe three drinks breaks. He stands like he’s about to throw himself off a cliff and in many ways he does with his vulnerability, imagination and daring. He’s unhinged in the best way possible. Free, feral and completely charismatic. It is a show, though. He is a true performer in that he embodies different ways of being in extreme ways. 

I watched a video of him resting after one of his gigs. He sat sweaty and breathing heavily in a chair shirtless. He looked completely gone. A fan came up to him and asked him almost in a sweet way if he could sign something. He told them to go away in a firm way. I think part of what makes being an actor so hard is the misunderstanding of others that you are acting.

Acting takes energy but just because something takes energy it doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. It just means you have to figure out a way to do it sustainably. I think of my friends parents who had her when they were young, maybe 19 and 20. They hadn’t finished their teacher training yet and ended up using their student money on diapers and baby food instead of beer and cigarettes. They grew up fast but the one thing they kept doing was practicing music. The mom was a singer and the dad was a french horn player. They made sure to practice in the bathroom whenever they had free time and even though they might have looked like ‘bad parents’ not having given everything to their children but I think in protecting their own development they were able to protect themselves and not resent their kids.

I know that many parents, especially mothers get to a point where they resent their families. They resent themselves for the sacrifices they had to make. They felt backed into a corner with the decisions they’ve made and feel like they have nowhere to go. Keep your head down and keep the family going. We talk of dystopias like the handmaiden’s tale but dystopias are always derived from reality and in many families women are reduced to being vessels for children and free labour for the house. As soon as a women’s economic power is stripped so is her agency.

There’s this recent trend of tradwifing and it seems romantic enough having someone take care of you economically. To have a division of labour where one person does one thing and the other does the rest. I think all games are worth playing as long as there is a potential way to exit them. The problem with the tradwife approach is that it not only creates a dynamic but a sticky one too whose exit feasible over time. There’s more to life than a career, of course, but there also isn’t a life without one.

I think the strength of a couple is not necessarily how much they depend on each other but how much they don’t. Like in my previous post about “stability and babies”, in order to be stable for someone, our stability cannot depend on theirs – that would be a house of cards. If we are stable individually that means we have capacity to hold someone else if they need it. This applies to all domains, emotionally, financially or even physically. Being strong allows us to be kind.

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