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Marriage (or how I don't really know what the word "love" means, except "duty," "obligation," "sentimentality," "fear.")

by Franklinton Underground Cinema
Marriage (or how I don't really know what the word "love" means, except "duty," "obligation," "sentimentality," "fear.") by Franklinton Underground Cinema
“I mean, you know, when you’re young, you go out on dates all the time, you go dancing or something, you’re floating free, and then one day you suddenly find yourself in a relationship, and suddenly everything freezes. And this can be true in your work as well. I mean, of course if you’re really alive inside, then of course there’s no problem! I mean, if you’re living with somebody in one little room and there’s a life going on between you and the person you’re living with, well then a whole adventure can be going on, right in that room. But there’s always the danger that things can go dead; then I really do think you have to kind of become… Read more

“I mean, you know, when you’re young, you go out on dates all the time, you go dancing or something, you’re floating free, and then one day you suddenly find yourself in a relationship, and suddenly everything freezes. And this can be true in your work as well. I mean, of course if you’re really alive inside, then of course there’s no problem! I mean, if you’re living with somebody in one little room and there’s a life going on between you and the person you’re living with, well then a whole adventure can be going on, right in that room. But there’s always the danger that things can go dead; then I really do think you have to kind of become a hobo or something, you know, like Kerouac, and go out on the road. I really believe that. I mean, you know, it’s not that wonderful to spend your life on the road, and my own overwhelming preference is to stay in that room if you can.

But you know, if you live with somebody for a long time, people are constantly saying: “Well! Of course it’s not as great as it used to be, but that’s only natural, the first blush of a romance goes, now that’s the way it has to be.” Now, I totally disagree with that. But I do think that you have to constantly ask yourself the question with total frankness: Is your marriage still a marriage? Is the sacramental element there? Just as you have to ask about the sacramental element in your work: is it still there? I mean, it’s a very frightening thing, Wally, to have to suddenly realize that my God! Ithought I was living my life, but in fact I haven’t been a human being! I’ve been a performer! I haven’t been living, I’ve been acting! I’ve acted the role of a father, I’ve acted the role of the husband, I’ve acted the role of the friend, I’ve acted the role of the writer, director, what have you. I’ve lived in the same room with this person but I haven’t really seen them. I haven’t really heard them. I haven’t really been with them."

“And then at a certain point I realized I had just gone for a good eighteen years unable to feel, except in the most extreme situations. I mean, to some extent I still had the ability to live in my work; that was why I was such a work junkie, that was why I felt every play I did was a matter of my life or my death. But in my real life, I was dead. I was a robot. You know, I didn’t even allow myself to get angry, or annoyed. I mean, you know, today, Chiquita, Nicholas, Marina, all day long, as people do, they do things that annoy me and they say things that annoy me, and today I get annoyed; and they say “Why are you annoyed?” and I say “Because you’re annoying!” you know.

And when I allowed myself to consider the possibility of not spending the rest of my life with Chiquita, I realized that what I wanted most in life was to always be with her. But at that time I hadn’t learned what it would be like to let yourself react to another human being. And if you can’t react to another person then there’s no possibility of action or interaction. And if there isn’t, I don’t really know what the word “love” means, except “duty,” “obligation,” “sentimentality,” “fear.”

“Well, you know, I could imagine a life, Wally, in which each day would become an incredible monumental creative task. And we’re not necessarily up to it. I mean, if you felt like walking out on the person you live with, you’d walk out. Then if you felt like it, you’d come back, but meanwhile the other person would have reacted to your walking out. It would be a life of such feeling. I mean, what was amazing in the workshops I led was how quickly people seem to fall into enthusiasm, celebration, joy, wonder, abandon, wildness, tenderness! Could we stand to live like that?”

“Well, it isn’t that strange. I mean, first of all, there are some pretty good reasons for being frightened. I mean, you know, a human being is a complex and dangerous creature. I mean, really if you start living each moment, Christ, that’s quite a challenge! I mean, if you really reach out, and you’re really in touch with the other person? Well, that really is something to strive for, I think; I really do.”

“Of course there’s a problem, because the closer you come, I think, to another human being, the more completely mysterious and unreachable that person becomes. I mean, you know, you have to reach out and you have to go back and forth with them, and you have to relate, and yet you’re relating to a ghost or something. I don’t know, because we’re ghosts, we’re phantoms. Who are we? And that’s to face—to confront the fact that you’re completely alone, and to accept that you’re alone is to accept death.”

“You know, in the sexual act there’s that moment of complete forgetting, which is so incredible. Then in the next moment you start to think about things: work on the play, what you’ve got to do tomorrow. I don’t know if this is true of you, but I think it must be quite common. The world comes in quite fast. Now that again may be because we’re afraid to stay in that place of forgetting, because that again is close to death. Like people who are afraid to go to sleep. In other words: you interrelate and you don’t know what the next moment will bring, and to not know what the next moment will bring brings you closer to a perception of death!

You see, that’s why I think that people have affairs. Well, I mean, you know, in the theater, if you get good reviews, you feel for a moment that you’ve got your hands on something. You know what I mean? I mean it’s a good feeling. But then that feeling goes quite quickly. And once again you don’t know quite what you should do next. What’ll happen? Well, have an affair and up to a certain point you can really feel that you’re on firm ground. You know, there’s a sexual conquest to be made, there are different questions: does she enjoy the ears being nibbled, how intensely can you talk about Schopenhauer in some elegant French restaurant. Whatever nonsense it is. It’s all, I think, to give you the semblance that there’s firm earth."

“Well, have a real relationship with a person that goes on for years, that’s completely unpredictable. Then you’ve cut off all your ties to the land and you’re sailing into the unknown, into uncharted seas. I mean, you know, people hold on to these images: father, mother, husband, wife, again for the same reason: ‘cause they seem to provide some firm ground. But there’s no wife there. What does that mean, a wife? A husband? A son? A baby holds your hands and then suddenly there’s this huge man lifting you off the ground, and then he’s gone. Where’s that son?”

Excerpts from My Dinner With Andre

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