July 3, 2014
“Dear World, I am leaving because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool. Good luck. (George Sanders). ” As a suicide note, it’s a good one. There is a touch of humor as well as his words that seems very true to the man. Or at least, as part of an audience, we think of the note being true, or we wish to assume that’s the case. For Sanders, due to his bad health, he couldn’t play his grand piano anymore. So he dragged the piano outside his residence, and smashed it with an axe. Which also sounds perfectly like what we imagine George Sanders would do if one is to be found in such a situation of despair.
The much underrated Michel Polnareff, also suffered from moments or years of despair. Although he never leaped into the great unknown, he had demons he had to cope with, and with respect to his dear friend, and a figure who helped discover him, Lucien Morisse who committed suicide by using a firearm. This started a downward spiral that in moments of clarity he got out to record, but eventually would lose himself in self-seclusion. He suffered from defective eyesight throughout his life, but his sunglasses, which are not only an iconic visual for Poinareff, but were also used to hide the pain that he felt everyday as a performer.
I’m always intrigued by entertainers who not only entertain us, but also owing to their lifestyle or the choices they made, we the consumers or fans, follow them, like if we were the children following the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Or on the other hand, we condemn them for their actions, which in reality, we don’t really know them. We just read or see them in broad strokes, and that feeds our fantasy or what we believe to be right or wrong. Tom Cruise always strikes me as a figure that almost doesn’t exist, except in the minds of those who feel the need to condemn or judge another figure - and in most cases, that figure is usually an entertainer of some sort.
From day one, Tom Cruise appears to be an institution than a human being. Like Polnareff hiding behind his dark sunglasses, Cruise hides behind his smile, which can be creepy or appears to be ‘fake. ' Nevertheless the irony is that he’s a very good actor who can use his body and facial emotions to great effect. I have seen him in terrible films, but I think he himself has always been good. When he’s in an exceptional film, he’s excellent. Almost bone-chilling, good in fact. Yet, due to his beliefs, we judge his life and therefore that leads one to judge his role as an entertainer or performer. “Performance” is a world that is not touched by the outside world. Yet it can be based on the actual arena that’s out there. When one comes to a movie theater or concert, they have perceived ideas of what or who that performer is, and sometimes that works out OK, and in other times, it is not so hot. Yet, one cannot count out the skills of a George Sanders, Polnareff, or our own (dis) loved Tom Cruise.
Culturally, I think we are in a world of our own making. A system is set up where one can’t really contribute to the landscape that we live on. Superficially we can do certain things, but the power base will never change. Or the structure of that power. Even if there is a revolution, it will only mirror the previous institutions or structure. Over the years, reading Kafka, I discovered that one is placed in a situation that we feel we are on the front lines to secede, but in reality the carrot will be moved inch-by-inch and we will never be able to reach our goal. So perhaps George Sanders is correct in his suicide note, or better yet, surviving one’s world such as Tom Cruise.
There’s the world and there is the landscape that we can operate in. The best we can do is focus on what we know, and what we want to know. To wake up as a giant bug is one sort of awareness, but it is really depends on one’s point-of-view or not. I think chance has a lot to do with it. Sanders took a chance, and lost. Polnareff is playing with the cards he has in his hands, and Cruise, like his name, is trying to maintain a level that is extremely high, but perhaps bound to fail due to human nature on his part, and others. But it could be much more, you can be Julian Assange, trapped in an embassy in London. But then again, perhaps we all make our own prisons, and we allow ourselves to be “guests’ in the prisons of our own making.