Gnomicon 149

If you have not already done so, you may wish to read the
Introduction to Gnomica.

Gnomicon  149
Friday 5 October 2012

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Pain is such an important thing in life.
I think that as an artist you have to experience suffering.

Naomi Watts (28 Sep 1968 – )

It’s not my intention to pick on Naomi Watts.  Any actress would probably do.  And it’s true, she’s not my favorite actress nor do I find her as beautiful as many assert (blondes aren’t really my thing!).  But, yes, she’s certainly believable as an actress – very good, in fact, in Mulholland Drive [2001], a fine movie by the way.

But it’s this vapid comment of hers that gets me going.

One of the most tedious things in the world to me is a ‘creative’ type going Narciss-us/-a on me: an author talking about his “craft”, a painter “explaining” her art, actors describing the “zone” they gets into before the next take.  Boring, booring, boooring!

And here’s Naomi Watts channeling Aeschylus (~525 – 456 BCE), for heaven’s sake!  Perhaps by way of Bobbie Kennedy, whose favorite poet he claimed Aeschylus to have been. WoW!

Why is the comment vapid?

Well, I’ll tell you why I think it is, and anyone may of course disagree with me.

“Pain is such an important thing in life.”

Yeeah, OK.  Duh!

I’d actually like to know in what way she believes it is important.

Similarly, even if it is true that “as an artist you have to experience suffering” (and that is a debatable point – Norman Rockwell, for example, was in my view a very fine artist but I’ve not been able to ascertain that he suffered a great deal; ditto Richard Estes, James Bama, et al.), what kind of suffering is she talking about?  Physical, psychic, what?

I assume that there is some kind of implicit syllogism lurking here:

MAJOR PREMISE: as an artist you have to experience suffering.
MINOR PREMISE: I have experienced suffering.
CONCLUSION:  Therefore I am an artist.

And maybe in her case this is true.  She certainly seems to believe it.  And, again, I want to know what pain and suffering she has experienced that has enabled her to become an artist.

I’d also be interested in knowing if the experience of suffering and pain is a unique phenomenon – that is, are there any people who have not had this experience?  If not, the observation is certainly not helpful to the extent that it explains anything about the acting skill of Naomi Watts:  after all, by far the vast majority of people who experience pain and suffering do not become artists, and thus that experience would actually seem to explain nothing about one’s being or becoming an artist.

In short, it does strike me as a comment as vapid as it is vacuous.

But, hey, this is just me working off a pet peeve at the expense of an innocent actress.

Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!

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