To be an actor, in the words of Zooey Glass
From a book that had an incredible impact on me and my thoughts and values. So when I look mad or intense or I simply don't want to talk to you in the Green Room or at rehearsal or even when I don't want to go out for drinks, or for God's sake, Karaoke, understand this is where I'm coming from.
"Oh, what the hell's the difference where I am? Pierre, South Dakota, for God's sake. Listen to me, Franny--I'm sorry, don't get riled. But listen to me. I have just one or two very small things more, and then I'll quit, I promise you that. But did you know, just by the way, that Buddy and I drove up to see you in stock last summer? Did you know we saw you in 'Playboy of the Western World' one night? One god-awful hot night, I can tell you that. But did you know we were there?"
An answer seemed to be called for. Franny stood up, then immediately sat down. She placed the ashtray slightly away from her, as if it were very much in her way. "No, I didn't," she said. "Nobody said one single--No, I didn't."
"Well, we were. We were. And I'll tell you, buddy. You were good. And when I say good, I mean good. You held that goddam mess up. Even all those sunburned lobsters in the audience knew it. And now I hear you're finished with the theatre forever--I hear things, I hear things. And I remember the spiel you came back with when the season was over. Oh, you irritate me, Franny! I'm sorry, you do. You've made the great startling goddam discovery that the acting profession's loaded with mercenaries and butchers. As I remember, you even looked like somebody who'd just been shattered because all the ushers hadn't been geniuses. What's the master with you, buddy? Where are your brains? If you've had a freakish education, at least use it, use it. You can say the Jesus Prayer from now till doomsday, but if you don't realize that the only thing that counts in the religious life is detachment, I don't see how you'll ever even move an inch. Detachment, buddy, and only detachment. Desirelessness. 'Cessation from all hankerings.' It's this business of desiring, if you want to know the goddam truth, that makes an actor in the first place. Why're you making me tell you things you already know? Somewhere along the line--in one damn incarnation or another, if you like--you not only had a hankering to be an actor or an actress but to be a good one. You're stuck with it now. You can't just walk out on the results of your own hankerings. Cause and effect, buddy, cause and effect. The only thing you can do now, the only religious thing you can do, is act. Act for God, if you want to-- be God's actress, if you want to. What could be prettier? You can at least try to, if you want to --there's nothing wrong in trying." There was a slight pause. "You'd better get busy, though, buddy. The goddam sands run out on you every time you turn around. I know what I'm talking about. You're lucky if you get time to sneeze in this goddam phenomenal world." There was another, slighter pause. "I used to worry about that. I don't worry about it very much any more. At least I'm still in love with Yorick's skull. At least I always have time enough to stay in love with Yorick's skull. I want an honorable goddam skull when I'm dead, buddy. I hanker after an honorable goddam skull like Yorick's. And so do you, Franny Glass. So do you, so do you. . . . Ah, God, what's the use of talking? You had the exact same goddam freakish upbringing I did, and if you don't know by this time what kind of skull you want when you're dead, and what you have to do to earn it--I mean if you don't at least know by this time that if you're an actress you're supposed to act, then what's the use of talking?"
Franny was now sitting with the flat of her free hand pressed against the side of her face, like someone with an excruciating toothache.
"One other thing. And that's all. I promise you. But the thing is, you raved and you bitched when you came home about the stupidity of audiences. The goddam 'unskilled laughter' coming from the fifth row. And that's right, that's right--God knows it's depressing. I'm not saying it isn't. But that's none of your business, really. That's none of your business, Franny. An artist's only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else's. You have no right to think about those things, I swear to you. Not in any real sense, anyway. You know what I mean?"