Friday, June 10, 2011

A Mid-Afternoon Protein Shake

(Evan sits in his office. As Jordan and Ethan look up building listings in Florida, Evan is having his customary mid-afternoon protein shake with Werner Herzog, Stephen Sondheim and Dave Chappelle)

Herzog: You cannot compose music if you are not willing to commit wholeheartedly to the ecstatic truth which displays the only greatness which the little people of the earth will ever see.

Sondheim: Does he always talk this way?

Evan: You have no idea.

Herzog: We are just a small collection of matter and anti-matter, put here by random chance and assembled by greater chance through electro-chemical wiring. We will not understand the greatness of the universe unless it is shown to us by force. You must insist upon it, or retire quietly into dignified silence.

Sondheim: Who cares about the greatness of the universe? Just get it done. If you're any talented, one in every three things you write will be any good, one in five might be great. But you shouldn't worry about quality, just write what you want and get it done.

Herzog: (to Sondheim) You do not understand the workings of the universe.

Sondheim: Clearly.

Herzog: You strive merely to represent the human, you care nothing for creation's grandeur or the greatness of untrammeled human aspiration. You care only for our little concerns, our bills to pay.

Evan: What's wrong with that?

Herzog: If you try to accommodate those problems it will kill your passion for true living. You must cherish all that is unvarnished within you. Only then can you be free to the universe's discoveries.

Chappelle: (whispers to Evan) Who the fuck is this guy?

Evan: He's made some great movies.

Herzog: I do not make movies, the universe makes them. I am but an inadequate vessel for their passage.

Chappelle: Shit man, this guy's fucked up.

Herzog: You of all comedians Mr. Chappelle, should understand that striving. You came up against the elusive poetic truth, and for a brief moment the universe aligned so that you could be the holy vessel through which Black and White humor united. Yet you realized that it could not last, and so you walked away so that you would only be remembered for your finest hour.

Chappelle: I just walked away from all the bullshit.

Herzog: Yes, yes you did. And that was your greatest accomplishment.

Sondheim: I have a real problem with this.

Evan: So do I.

Sondheim: You can't just say that the world has truths to discover. The world is what it is and we won't necessarily be changed by knowing more or less about it.

(in walks V.S.Naipaul)

Naipaul: You called?

Sondheim: Yeah. Just a second. If we're so small, why then do we have to emphasize how small we are against other things? Why can't we just make things by our own scale for the concerns that we little people have?

Naipaul: Because the condition of human beings is contemptible, and if we do not seek to understand something larger within the circumstances of each human being's life, we animals would hurl ourselves into the ocean for our despair at realizing our own hopelessness.

Sondheim: Alright. You're not helping.

Naipaul: That's ok, I just wondered if you had an extra Double A battery.

Sondheim: Oh, here you go. (reaches into Evan's desk, gives Naipaul a battery)

Naipaul: Thanks!

(Exit VS Naipaul)

Evan: But if we're just small beings incapable of greatness, what then is the point of making good art at all?

Chappelle: Fuck man. If I didn't do shit I'd just die of boredom.

Herzog: He has a point. The man has true vision.

Chappelle: Man, I just wanted to show race relations as they really were. Everybody's a little racist, and we know it. But we don't talk about it and that's the worst part of it all.

Evan: I'm not racist.

Chappelle: Sure you are. So am I.

Evan: No, I dislike everybody pretty much equally.

Chappelle: Well Sondheim definitely is. You ever see a black character in one of his musicals?

Sondheim: He's right. I just don't like minorities, poor people and non-New Yorkers. But what about Werner?

Herzog: Yes, I suppose it's true. I really have no interest in non-White characters except to show how oppressed they've been by the madness of white people.

Sondheim: And Evan, don't you find though that people have redeeming qualities that makes them worth the hell they inspire in one another?

Evan: Not often. The world is a dumb, sometimes dangerous, place. There are certain things that make life worth living, but not all of us had the good fortune to grow up next to Oscar Hammerstein and become Stephen Sondheim. So for most of us, great life-redeeming stuff is a little harder to come by.

Sondheim: I'll tell you what. Let's view this as an equation.


Sondheim: We all start at zero, we then have the frustrations that make life not worth it: bills, obbligations, stress, loneliness, misunderstandings, make your own list. So each of them is a -X variable and you have to subtract from zero for however much each of them affect you. We then have the things which make life better: entertainment or art, activity, sports, sex, friendship, occasionally even love. Each of those are a positive X. For most people, there's always enough that the +X will make the -X worth it.

Chappelle: That's the dumbest fucking equation I've ever heard! My three year old daughter could do better!

Sondheim: Be that as it may, that's my view of the human condition.

Herzog: Of course. You realize that your view has no Y-axis, but why would a middlebrow purveyor of mere entertainment ever think of anything more?

Evan: If Sondheim is middlebrow, then there is no high.

Sondheim: No Evan, he's right. I want to make art that everybody understands. I think that's the point of it actually. Whether you're a genius or a simpleton, or if you're refined or unwashed, you should be able to understand my shows. Werner is the first person who gets it.

Werner: Of course, I understand everything human because everything human is so banal. If every human is only capable of happiness or unhappiness, how could they ever strive towards anything greater than human happiness?

Sondheim: Why do we need anything more?

Herzog: Because there is more to the universe than happiness, and if we want a chance for lasting happiness we are compelled to find it. This is why I believe that there are two human conditions which dwarf our human states of emotion. One is the baseness of animal man, who contents himself with fornication and asphyxiation. He is a man unevolved and corrupted by nature, who does not perceive the transcendental within the possibilities of his life. This is the -Y axis.

Chappelle: This is getting too fucking freak-show for me, I'm leaving.

Evan: Don't leave yet.

Herzog: Then there is civilized man. The man who never ceases his quest for the sublime and gives himself over to the cause of redeeming mankind's vulgarity through his quest for greater truths than the commonplace mundanities of your grocery list.

Sondheim: Do you really take this seriously?

Herzog: This is the positive Y axis. And it is the only way which mankind is redeemed from the mundane concerns of his life. What good is happiness against a hundred thousand days of repetition and smallness? How can man ever feel anything but misery in such a state. It is only by refusing to settle for such trivialities that we may grow against our circumstances and feel less small against the gargantuan chains of fate.

Evan: Isn't it possible that you're both right?

(Sondheim and Herzog look at each other)

Both: No!

(Knock at the door. Enter Gustav Mahler.)

Mahler: Evan, I have been listening at the door for twenty minutes. You must know that they are both idiots. Do you not see death's cruel hand following us everywhere? It runs roughshod over our most detailed plans and it is only through death's infinitely loving though spare mercy that we may experience life's joys both profound and mundane. One strives for life, yet life does not strive for you or I or anyone else. Life strives for death. And it is only through death that you shall understand life.

(both Sondheim and Herzog recoil)

Evan: I hate to admit this, but that makes a certain degree of sense. It's just a shame that you apparently have to be a creepy douchebag in order to make sense of life.

Mahler: I do not shield myself from such insults! I strive to experience the full misery of life so that its joys may be so much the greater relief!

Sondheim: God, this guy's unbearable.

Chappelle: I like this guy.

Herzog: How dare you!

Chappelle: This guy gets it. We're here until we fuckin' die, we don't have any choice. So if there's a chance to understand shit, he takes it. If there's a chance for a fuckin' blowjob, he takes that too.

Mahler: Actually, I don't.

Chappelle: Why the fuck not?

Mahler: Sex reminds me too much of death's cruel stink.

Chappelle: Alright, well, you can take it too far. But if he weren't fuckin' batshit insane, he'd totally get it.

Herzog: Scandalous!

Sondheim: Just awful!

(Herzog and Sondheim leave)

Evan: They'll be back.

Chappelle: I'm gonna go too. I'm gonna take this Mahler guy to a girl I know. But keep workin, long as you don't take it too seriously you're gonna write whatever the fuck you want.

Evan: Thanks Dave. Let's hang out again soon.

Mahler (to Chappelle as they walk out the door): Have you ever read Pure Logic by Edmund Husserl?

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