Monthly Archives: June 2014

The sweetness, the sorrow, and the delirium

To paraphrase a quote from the musical A Chorus Line:

“If today were the day you had to stop (insert artistic endeavor), how would you feel?”

This then leads into the final song of the show, “What I Did For Love.” As somebody who has been fighting for my identity as an actor and a man, this song is very close to my heart. The song goes on to say, “Won’t forget, can’t regret, what I did for love.” I’m sure in whatever artistic medium we use, anybody who is in the arts can relate.

Although a script I wrote wasn’t accepted into the Series of Collaborative Shorts that are being filmed on campus right now, I was encouraged to pursue making it independently. This is now a very distinct possibility, as my friend Lauren is interested in directing it. Its title- Delirium of the Brave– is a change for me; it’s a script of symbolic optimism, although its source material is incidentally more pessimistic in tone. The title comes from a line from W.B. Yeats’ poem “September 1913.” The delirium of the brave referred to is of the autonomy movement of Yeats’ version of Romantic Ireland. Although the poem is a condemnation of the middle class, I meant for this script to be more metaphorical, and also create its own story.

It’s a story that any artist can relate to: what it means to be an artist. It’s about the nature of acting, directing, whatever medium we choose. So many times, we’re told we’ll never make it, or it’s too impractical, etc. But without art, we’d be living in a very dull world.  This is what we do for love- we create. We strive, we struggle, we push on in the face of our critics. To me, that’s always what it meant to keep acting.

Thus, Delirium of the Brave is a story for dreamers. Yeats mentions his inspiration John O’Leary in the last line of all four stanzas. The first three stanzas end as such:

Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone/It’s with O’Leary in the grave.

The last stanza, however, is more direct, almost as if Yeats is speaking to his critics. To tie it in to the story, our protagonist Brock O’Leary (yes, it’s an homage) uses this final stanza as his audition piece for a show within a show. It goes as such:

Yet could we turn the years again,
And call those exiles as they were
In all their loneliness and pain,
You’d cry `Some woman’s yellow hair
Has maddened every mother’s son’:
They weighed so lightly what they gave.
But let them be, they’re dead and gone,
They’re with O’Leary in the grave.

The way I have it written is for Brock to use it as a way to silence his critics; the Brock O’Leary they want to know is gone, and the Brock O’Leary that he is must emerge, even if it means chasing delirium.

Chase your delirium, artists. Never let anybody dissuade you. You are the only one who should decide when enough is enough. If and when that day comes when you can’t do it anymore, walk away proudly. Let the tears come, if they must. It’s like being a pro athlete- it’s hard to say goodbye to your passion. Hopefully, we won’t ever have to, or just put it on hiatus for a while.

For once, I wrote a happy ending. It’s a message of hope for anybody who’s struggling to hold on to dreams, or even to hold on to anything. If it ever does get made, this one is for all of you.

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A dilemma of heritage (Een dilemma van het erfgoed)

As the World Cup’s final sixteen progress to the knockout stages, it means various things to various people. Greece and Algeria have advanced this far for the first time ever, so it must be very special to their citizens and those who are of Greek or Algerian heritage.

My heritage, however, just became a little cloudy. The United States, the country of my birth, is playing against Belgium, the country of my heritage. Considering that I also qualify for citizenship in both countries makes it even tougher to watch.

Belgium vs. United States. This isn’t just a conflict of interest. This is divided loyalty.

I am loyal to both countries, though thick and thin, or at least I try to be. And I think it’s good that the U.S. has advanced- it shows that soccer, or association football, if you will, is beginning to grow in popularity. Still not there with everyone, but it’s becoming more and more accessible, and there is a certain amount of pride.

It’s hard to choose a side on this one. If there is a silver lining to this, it’s that one of the two teams I’m rooting for will make the quarterfinals. But if it has to come at the expense of the other team, it makes it a little bittersweet.

I’m tempted to lean towards Belgium, for two reasons:

1. Belgium is about the size of Maryland. It’s also surrounded by three large countries- France, Netherlands, and Germany, all of whom have made the finals in the World Cup. As a result, there’s a type of inferiority complex. America has been so dominant in so many sports for so long. Belgium really has only two sports it’s had a proud tradition in- soccer and cycling. This is also the best Red Devils team in thirty years. Four years ago, Belgium was teetering on the brink of collapse, due to conflicts with language barriers, immigration reform, and regional pride. For some, Belgium took pride (facetiously or otherwise) in the fact that it broke Iraq’s record for longest period without a government. The country was on the verge of dissolution, or perhaps a very long, taxing battle to pick itself back up. But right before Christmas 2011, newly elected Prime Minister Elio di Rupo was able to create some stability, and soon after that, Belgium started winning again. This new “Golden Generation” united the people of Belgium, to a certain extent. The fans love the players, Flemish and Walloon, and the feeling is mutual amongst the players. Even though Belgium made the semifinals in 1986, they ended up with only two official wins (one win in the group stage, and advancing via penalty shootout in one knockout round, then losing in the consolation third-place game). In this group stage, Belgium won all three of its games. It has now won more games in one World Cup than ever before. Belgian football has a reason to feel proud of itself again. Why can’t the feeling last a little while longer? If by some miracle, they win the whole thing, or even get to the finals, imagine how crazy this country the size of Maryland would go. Can the “dark horse” team ride into Salvador and prevail? It will be a good matchup either way.

2. It’s a way of honoring my father. My dad was born in Brussels, but he’s lived in America longer. Still, he can’t go against his homeland, and it’s not fair to ask him to. I can’t imagine what he feels about this game- his two home countries playing an elimination game. My dad was the one who taught me “the beautiful game,” and was a coach on several youth teams I played on. It was a father-son bonding moment. You have to understand that, right? I taught him baseball, my first love, and he taught me his first love. He made this beautiful game a beautiful gift that I will hold on to for the rest of my life.

 

I’m cheering hard for both teams, but I don’t know if I can watch it. It’ll be too sad one way, and too euphoric the other way. Sports are often considered the great equalizer. For anyone who says that it’s just a game: you are right in letter, but not in spirit. This isn’t a game for me. This is a matter of pride, of heritage, of undying heartbreak for one side, and undying jubilation for another, and undying loyalty for both. If you can’t understand that, tough luck.

July 1 in Salvador, Brazil. Here’s hoping for a good game.

breaking the poetry hiatus

A poem of encouragement. 🙂 It’s been so long since I wrote any poetry. Hope I’m not too rusty.

Who Comes Following

Don’t just stand on the shoulders of giants
Jump off of the shoulders of critics
The ones with their crooked critiques
Emotional grit is just as true
Whenever you walk that fine line,
Don’t toe it, but breech it, batter down its walls.
I’ll try to follow behind you,
No matter how afraid either of us may be.

Asphalt ground or ocean water,
Whenever I can,
In spiritual or sentient substance,
I want to urge you onward
On the way to a journey of riches,
Jovial in its embarrassment.
I may be trailing, but I am there,
Taking that leap of loyalty.
And I’d like to be known as somebody,
Somebody who comes following right behind.

On your chase, use influence,
Wisdom and patience,
Tolerate the turbulence,
Before your wings touch down in your destination.
You are on your way, friend,
Shining on in your earned glory,
Earned in any eons and epochs.
Absent of the physical realm,
Support remains ahead of you.
Let it guide you on this journey, friend,
And hopefully, I’ll catch some of its residue.

Pull on, don’t push away,
Throw your best right hook into the wind,
And get some in there for me, too.
Destiny should not be deterred.
I may be trailing, but I am there,
Taking that leap of loyalty.
And I’d like to be known as somebody,
Somebody who comes following right behind.