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Mistress Marilyn's POV
No shit, Tempus Fugit!
The Illusion is Real ... 
12th-Aug-2008 11:59 pm
Leia-Brotherly Love
So my latest fascination is the movie 'The Prestige' with Christian Bale ... a complex tale of magic, illlusion and obsession. I've started reading the book by Christopher Priest, and it's equally compelling, in a different way, of course, than the film.

Arthur Borden as portrayed by Bale is someone I can identify with in many rather strange ways. He lives his work, as I feel I do. He only shows to the world what will serve his work, something I certainly did early on and probably still do ... and in a way, something we all HAVE to do to be successful. When our 'real person' shows through, warts and all, it doesn't always serve us. And sometimes it just doesn't pay to drop your 'stage face,' something I definitely found this year.

I often talk about how I can finally 'be myself' in my work life and how I don't have to pretend to be perfect anymore. I don't live a traditional lifestyle, for instance, and I don't have to try to simulate one. Most people know about my potty mouth and my somewhat wicked sense of fun, and some even know about my rather twisted predilections when it comes to music or movies or other pasttimes. But of course the 'myself' that people at work see is a different version of the 'myself' that writes fanfic or the 'myself' that holds court when I'm with family or close friends.

As long as fundamental things about me remain true, people are okay with the rest. And I've got some pretty important fundamentals that I've worked hard in my life to develop and to personify, like being competent and confident, respectful and ethical. And certainly being in control--of both myself and of most situations--is one of the most important.

This year when I let down my guard and showed weakness, I found some fascinating reactions--reactions I won't forget for a long time, if ever. The people who needed me to be strong either looked the other way and tried to pretend I still was or actually resented the fact I had allowed them to see a chink in my armor. Only a couple people (outside my own family, that is) just responded to the human me and awkwardly tried to help.

And this was a good lesson, really. Because it reminded me of what I already knew. When you've taken on a role in life, you gotta play it, even when you're just pretending. The truth doesn't matter. People need you to keep up the illusion, whatever it is. So if you're a politician, do a better job of hiding your peccadilloes. If you're an athlete, don't let us catch you doping, and if you're a player, don't let us catch you cheating. If you can fool us, we'll participate in the success of the deception.

In the book 'The Pledge,' the character of Borden calls this "The Pact" between the audience and the illusionist. The Michael Caine character, Cutter, exposits about this complicity to in the movie's frame. "You want to be fooled," he says. It's an interesting way of looking at something I've always marvelled at: the subtle, almost imperceptible difference between pretense and reality. I always tell people to 'pretend' they're confident and to 'pretend' they're at ease when I'm helping to train people to communicate in different settings, both external and internal. If you pretend often enough, you'll become more and more comfortable. Eventually the pretense will become reality for both the audience and the main player . . . or so close to reality that the difference doesn't matter.

This is a concept that's relatively easy to grasp and surprisingly successful. Almost everyone had a chance to indulge in 'make believe' as a kid, and it's a delightful thought that as adults the ability to pretend can make us more successful.

'The Prestige' takes all this to extremes, and I'm loving reaching my brain around those extremes and trying to find ways to use what I learn in my own life and in my writing.

And of course I sucked it up after my little meltdown. Once I saw there was no one to fix the problem--that I was the only one who had the balls to do that, so I just had to do it for myself--that's just what I did.

Some people get what they need in life by the very act of being needy. But that will never work for me, because I'm one of the strong ones. It's the role I've chosen to play, and at some point the illusion became reality.

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13th-Aug-2008 09:33 am (UTC)
Well stated. Totally.

No surprise to me that no one could believe you weren't the strongest person around, no matter what. You simply have more balls than anyone else -- and that's all there is to it.

And believe me, I won't forget the people who failed you, either. (I've made a mental list and it's staying in my head forever...) Not that you really needed them, clearly. But just so I know who is really to be trusted and counted on -- as opposed to who clearly can't be.

Pretending is great -- and works so well (as we both know). And the game becomes reality! Which is so damn cool...

I don't need to tell you how much you rock it. But I will, anyway. (heh)

14th-Aug-2008 02:41 am (UTC)
The thing that will always strike me is the way I was placated, as if a drink and a chance to vent was all I needed. And when the 'solution' just added to the problem, as I suggested it would, there was no alternative.

And the whole thing about friendship and loyalty is just . . . just fucked up. I can't believe how blind I can be.

Still, I do believe you can bend and not break, and even my patience reached capacity, my tenacity didn't. So, all in all, it was a positive result, I guess.

Anyway, as always, I appreciate your unconditional support. I know I'm lucky to have it.
13th-Aug-2008 02:07 pm (UTC)
I was very taken by "The Prestige," which I watched because of Christian Bale but bought because it is such a good movie (and don't he and Michael Caine play well off each other?)

As far as being a strong person, I'm not sure it's something one can turn off and on at will. For myself, no matter the circumstances, ultimately it's me I have to rely on, even though there are several people in my life I can count on unconditionally. It's not something I'd want any other way.
14th-Aug-2008 02:45 am (UTC)
I'm lucky to have that unconditional support, as well. And I guess I'm lucky not to need it too often. I agree it's great to be able to count on yourself.

Michael Caine was fascinating in 'The Prestige.' Cutter was such a realistic character, who actually learns and changes his mind. I loved that in the end he realized Angier was messed up and came over to Borden's side. And he was right all along about Borden's trick.
13th-Aug-2008 03:58 pm (UTC)
Once again, this is unfamiliar territory for me (film/books). Isn't it amazing how much of life is learning about ourselves rather than others?
I'm happy for you to have managed the difficulties. Sometimes I believe we don't pretend at all, we just show more of ourselved that we tried to hide from others as well as ourselves. No matter.... if we exist, we have the right to be what we are at any given moment.
Life in only truth ~ we just express it in many forms.
Glad to see you post again! Thanks!
14th-Aug-2008 02:49 am (UTC)
How true. We have the right to be weak or strong, depending on the situation. And we don't have to be defined by one emotion or one talent. It's too bad that many people can't appreciate the whole person, so they want to stereotype you as one thing or another. Still, I know that's just natural.

I do think sometimes you just have to suck it up and pretend you aren't feeling something, especially fear. I use this techinque when I'm training people to talk to the media or do public speaking, something that can be really fearful. After a while, you don't need to pretend anymore, because it really doesn't bother you that much.
13th-Aug-2008 05:17 pm (UTC)
funny how that works isnt it

take that moment for "little me" then look around and see the changes

and then a deep breath and back in, in it to win it

all you said is so, so true to all of us i think

14th-Aug-2008 02:51 am (UTC)
Right on. The deep breath is all you usually need, but sometimes it takes a little ranting in advance!
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