Michael: Here you go, love.
(offering other half of candybar)
Here’s your evil bar.
Melissa: Save it.
(rushing to keyboard)
’kay, don’t say anything.
I have to record what we said on our walk.
Michael: See, it looks like I was carrying both bottles, but as soon as we got out of sight, I handed one to you so I could eat the candybar. And somebody looking at that would say, “Look at that guy—”
Melissa: That’s so narcissistic to think that anyone even notices. You live your life as if you were in a movie. As if there were an audience watching and interpreting everything you do.
Michael: I think it’s because I was raised by television. And television makes you conscious of the fact that you’ve been sitting there eavesdropping on all these television lives, so it’s natural for you to begin to assume that even your own life is being eavesdropped on. Not by some government entity or something weird like that—
Melissa: “Nothing weird!”
Michael: But maybe that’s what you start to think if you start thinking bad thoughts. What I mean is, a benevolent camera eye, always pointed at you, always conscious of everything you’re doing—
Melissa: That doesn’t sound very benevolent. That sounds scary!
Michael: It depends on who’s at the other end. In my case, I assumed that the other end was this appreciative audience—
Melissa: Now, hold it right there. Because you are constantly perceiving the world to be judging you—
Michael: That’s because I’m paranoid. I can’t help that.
Melissa: So exactly—then how can the observer be benevolent and appreciative?
Michael: Because, I’m not talking about a single individual when I’m talking about the audience. I’m talking about a group of people. With a group, every little thing you do doesn’t have to appeal to everyone all the time. One person might think, “Oh, I just love the way they say that.” For another person, it’s a different moment. They could hate each other’s moment. They might say, “Why does he ruin it with that?”
That’s not possible with only a few people. And if there’s only one person, well, then you’re completely at their mercy.
Melissa: Not if you’re not doing it for them in the first place. But I guess that’s the difference between you and me. You were raised on television, so you think life is a performance. I was raised on books, so I think life is a novel.
Michael: Do you think that’s true?
Melissa: To a certain extent, yeah. I definitely see underlying themes in our life, motifs, like you would in a novel. There are coincidences. Strands. Chapters. Epiphanies. There’s a certain logic to the narrative.
Michael: Well then, what’s the true difference between a novel and a performance?
Melissa: The size of the audience.
Melissa: With a novel, it’s very intimate. It’s author to reader. Period. With a performance, you’re up on a stage or on a big screen, and you’ve got a bunch of people sitting around watching you, applauding—or not.
Michael: Well, I clearly see that what we’re doing here, to bring this back down to earth, is the more intimate thing. Author to reader.
In this case, authors.
Michael: But, we are needing to perform what we’re writing, so we are actually doing both.
Not that our performance would be worthy of any audience.
Melissa: So we’re performing—by conversing—and I’m typing it as we speak. We’re also adding another layer by tweaking, writing, and even later, coming back and editing when we perform it again to check its authenticity.
Michael: It’s interesting that you use the word “authenticity,” as this process shows there is a certain phoniness behind the art—the lie part Picasso talks about—
Melissa: That tells the truth.
Melissa: Like the part below that was written earlier, on a different day.
Michael: You wanna know what I think we’re like right now?
Michael: Vaudevillians. We can give each other lines—you know, we can make good setups for each other, or we can leave each other nowhere to go. It’s just like vaudeville, and vaudeville was really a lot of—
Michael: See that’s the thing, I shouldn’t be talking about vaudeville, because I don’t know that much about it. So that’s all I want to say about vaudeville.
You should have an idea of what you’re talking about. I know no one can be like a computer and have perfect facts all the time. People are imperfect. Their memories are imperfect.
I’m pretty sure your experiment isn’t working right now. You’re just recording what I’m saying, and you’re not getting a chance to say anything.
We’ve gotta make sure it doesn’t become these long-somethings.
Michael: (calling from kitchen)
Here’s that evil candybar.
“Haha, Michael! Not for you!”
- Oregon, USA
- We are procrastinating perfectionists with too many projects. We rarely finish anything we start, but hopefully . . .
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