Sunday, May 23, 2010

Artist, person, public figure, who's to judge?

The other day, I had an indirect conversation. I really have to stop doing that. It went kind of like this, cleaned up a bit for public consumption. In responding to a comment, I said:

"Speaking of flutes, one of my favorite stories about them, was from David Carradine, while in China, shooting Kill Bill. They were at an ancient Buddhist monastery where there was a very cool forest of bamboo. So he got some of it, and in the end, carved a new flute from one of the shafts. Also, he played his, "silent flute", used in the Circle of Iron film, and also one from the Kung Fu series, in the Kill Bill movies.

Their reply was:

"...are we going to also be reminded of the closet incident. Or that just breaks the mood?. I don't see too much spiritualism to be gleaned from this. Turned out to be a sad sack. Very sorry to say."

This response to my rather innocent comment actually made my kind of sad. My only point in bringing it up was in reference to the FLUTE and nothing to do with Dave, and mostly about being able to get bamboo from a forest that was next to a special ancient Buddhist Monastery in China. I mean, how cool would that be? Somehow, I think the intent fell (and the spiritual part) on deaf ears.

And so my reply was:

"Well, its not a big deal either way. I decided years ago though, as a kid, to separate an artist from their personal life. It has to be pretty extreme for me to discount what someone has done in life artistically (NO, I'm probably not going to collect Hitler paintings; then again, buying them, burning them and keeping the ashes in jars, IS an interesting past time; if you're rich).

"That attitude came about because my grandmother wanted nothing to do with Charlie Chaplin, whom I loved, and as it turned out, her distaste for him was for an incorrect reason. Sadly, it didn't come out until after her death.

"Not long after my grandmother made her feelings about Chaplin clear, then my mother said she wanted nothing to do with the works of one of my favorite actors (no, sorry, can't remember anymore who), because he had fooled around on his wife and got a divorce because of it; like I cared.

"Getting back to Dave. If Dave had died from personal choice, then that was sad, as it indicates a problem feeling certain things requiring some aggressive technique, where he may have benefited from sensate focus with a romantic partner, or some therapy, perhaps. But if it was not of his choice, then it indicates some foul play, or an attempt (and very well formed) to discredit him."

Yes, I am a fan. Always have been. When Kung Fu was first on, I was just driving and into my second car, inconsequentially, a 1967 RS/SS 350 Camaro convertible, The first of a line, and at that time, Chevy's finest and deluxe effort for its new car. I was maybe 18. Every Thursday night, I would drive over to my older brother's house and he and I and several of his friends would watch the show. Before it started, he would go next door to his dad's tavern (we had different dads, what of it?!) and get a gallon of beer for $2. Then we'd all settle down to watch the show and imbibe in that which was available and much like breaking bread back then.

And NO ONE WAS ALLOWED TO TALK during the show. That's what commercials were for.

There WAS no Tivo. But we watched it with a reverence as its content was special in a wasteland of television shows. W learned something from it; it was one of the few TV shows ever, where you actually learned something from it, where you took away something useful that you could use in your life, and from then on. It probably changed my life. It taught me to not take some things so seriously; to consciously orient my attitude; to persevere and to consider what was really important, even when I thought I knew intrinsically what was. These were things I had already learned from starting Martial Arts in 6th grade, but this drove it home, made it cool, brought it to life.

But in the end, as Dave would tell you, he was just an actor, playing a part, that he was honored to have had the chance to play.

So, am I the one to judge? Does it matter to me what he did in his personal life? Even if his death were attributed to a self inflicted demise, it was a victimless crime. And I've never been one to point the finger at someone for living on the edge, or pushing the envelope, or living a little extreme. Not to mention, I never led a life like his so I really have nothing to compare it to.

Either way, I don't feel its my place to pass judgment. I don't have all the information anyway. And if I did, then I'd be just another armchair referee asshole playing judge. Wouldn't I?

In the end, when I consider what he gave us, gave me, if in only a part of his work, then I'm guess I'm grateful to have it. And so in the end, something that had nothing to do with this actor, became something about him, after all.

But like I said, no big deal.

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