The DeRAnged series is getting extended as I go along. Sorry. After the run-up/Servetus meet and the second review, I now find it necessary to put my personal reaction to seeing the play and Mr A into a separate post. It’s a slightly unusual move for me because so far this blog has been mostly about substantial (as in “objective” or “based on fact”) criticism in the shape of film/play reviews and photo analyses, my or others’ fandom activities or commentary on current news, and less about the psycho
logical insights into my own interpretation of the man as a person. Not that I am keeping those secret – but so far they have been mostly limited to comments on other bloggers’ posts (and to BTS e-mailing and messaging). I suppose I never felt those merited discussion and publication. (No implied criticism for those of you who extensively write about yourself in relation to Mr A. This is probably only my Northern proddy modesty coming out…)
My first experience at the SD at the beginning of August was already a first disclosure of my emotional, personal reactions to the man. As was the whole Berlin saga last December. It seems as if RL encounters with the man cause shifts in perception of him. No wonder, of course there is a difference between observing a performance of RA through the filter of a screen, and actually being there, in the same space, at the same time, as him. I had an inkling of that in Berlin. But it did not hit me until I saw the play a second time – possibly also due to some of the
news speculations that had been trickling out in between my first and second viewings of the play and which I had worked hard to ignore.
I mainly attribute it to having a front row experience of the play that I came to a new attitude towards the man, and to the fact that I had already had the first viewing behind me and therefore the disbelief at seeing RA act *live* in front of me was no longer distracting from or obscuring the play and the performance. Also, talking with Servetus about the play and his performance helped me find a different way of looking at him. Essentially I realized that one of his most attractive characteristics is his single-minded pursuit of his art.
Wow, that is a late conclusion, you might think. Well, of course I have known that all along. But I confess it was overlaid with the appreciation of the outward attractiveness of the man until now. When I was sitting in the theatre, I witnessed the act of creation with my own eyes. I have snapshot millisecond images in my mind’s eye: RA crouching over the water bowl, Proctor frail and vulnerable. RA sobbing at the table, Proctor realizing his guilt. RA roaring at the judges, Proctor implicated. RA shaking in Proctor’s tattered prison gear, Proctor conflicted between the choice of living or of giving up his good name. These were highly emotional scenes, and pivotal in the course of the play, and despite being 100% absorbed in the play, I nonetheless I consciously realized that I was observing the act of creation in real-time.
I can’t even tell you how that was signified. There was no blinking sign over his head with a pointy arrow saying “artist in creative process” or a different pose or poise in him. But I felt a notable charge of energy in the room, or maybe there was something like an invisible aura that I perceived. I saw his concentrated transformation of skill and talent into the actual performance, the transformation of an actor into a character. And that blew me away, literally made me gasp. It was like that transcendental moment in the analog photographic process after exposing your photographic paper with the image: you are dousing it in developer, and in the developer bath the image gradually appears on the white page, ghost-like at first, and then gets darker and darker until it is fully there. It only takes a few short moments, but it is breath-taking, goosebump-inducing every time. You see the work of art take shape in front of your eyes. I felt touched to the point of tearfulness, and privileged, to witness RA in this act on stage .
I wouldn’t call it an epiphany, but I finally understood what a “muse” is. And in that context I can see his own self as detached from his creative persona. I can take that as an inspiration to write about him as a model in a photograph, or as a character in a ficlet, and I can appreciate the characters that he creates so powerfully, and still allow *them* to thrill me sexually and transform that into a shrining drool moment. It felt a bit as if the crush was over – something that I had been subconsciously struggling against for months – but something else has emerged. Possibly more respect than I had before, also because he has successively become more and more real to me due to observing him in RL. (Tip for all fans who want to hold on to their own version of RA – never go see him live *ggg*! Total ballbreaker.) So RA has been changed from the superficial object of my fangirling to a muse. I have been “de-RA’ed” and instead been “be-muse’d”, so to speak.
But seeing this creative animal engaged in the act of creation was unbelievably inspirational. I came out of the play thinking that I envied his ability to create in such a way, and to subsequently touch others with his talent and skill. I understood that I want that for myself – to create something that will touch others, substantially, not fleetingly. I want to make others cry or laugh or think or react to a message that I am sending with my creative work. And not for the glory but for the ultimate connection between creator and consumer of art.
This realization has implications for my own activities as a fan. It has validated my (again subconscious) move away from writing only for me (and him, implied) to writing for me and the fandom. Ultimately the latter is more gratifying, anyway, as there is two-way communication in it, whereas the former was a cul-de-sac with no hope for or expectation of response. As a creative I need the feedback, and the feedback has to come from someone who is my audience, and therefore has clout with me. Relieving him of the burden of validation feels liberating. I no longer have a secret wish for receiving recognition from him (a frustrating desire that was always doomed), nor do I feel obliged to validate and recognize *him*. In the creative cycle he sits at the centre, but the cycle itself works without his participation and relies on my own skill, talent, motivation and application of ideas.
There is a tiny bit of regret, I must admit. It’s never easy to let go of opinions and dreams, or even break up with the *idea* of somebody or something. Maybe some of his characters will continue to populate my fantasies, I actually hope so. He’s created them to appeal to me, and by reacting to them I am actually validating his talent. I can be in love with his talent and art, and that is ultimately more useful for me than loving his self. Physical attraction is superficial and wanes, or tastes change over time, and the eye gets attracted by new visual experiences. It’s the filling of the void that lasts longer, indefinitely, possibly. No doubt my attitude will change as I change, as I experience new things, as I learn more about myself and as I continue to observe Mr A. (And without jumping ahead – some of the reactions described here already received new impulses the week after experiencing them, when I went to London a third time…)