Oh, I’ll keep takin’ punches
Until their will grows tired.
- Pearl Jam
The following is a true story and a review in two acts.
I will be simultaneously the author, narrator, judge & jury, art critic, and ex-lover. It will contain several ruminations on sex, boxing, art, and octopuses which, in their own unique way, are still affecting my life. Under my skin you might say. The names haven’t been changed to protect the innocent, the damage has been done. Besides, there are so few actors in this Luis Buñuel burlesque scenario it wouldn’t impact its telling knowing who’s who or not. It might have saved a little embarrassment for the parties involved but the dice have been rolled, I have no other choice but to move my pawn. Free will is damned. This will be a lot of territory to cover I know, I apologize for the self-indulgence in advance. I am after all, the long-winded voice of God. Trust me.
Perhaps you have seen the film Cool Hand Luke starring Paul Newman and George Kennedy and in particular, the infamous if not iconic boxing scene between the two Hollywood stars. Luke (Paul Newman) literally takes a beating at the hands of Dragline (George Kennedy) but still keeps getting up to take another punch until Dragline, exhausted and somewhat bewildered, gives up, recognizing the futility of it all, unable to break Luke’s spirit. Well, imagine Luke was me or is me—I thought so too until recently. I believe now, Luke should have lain and stayed down accepting his fate as a beaten man. His stubbornness was just another form of romanticized courage (see bravery) mano-a-mano. It was a naïve and foolish (boxing) stance that flatters one’s ego and pride—‘twas a manly man that Luke but stupid.
The point is we can all decide at any given moment to throw in the proverbial towel or throw the fight. There is a difference. The former is life beating us down and the latter is premeditated. Luke resigned himself to do neither, but what did he gain in the end? Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about choosing death or dying (or even wanting to), but about picking the good fight, the right one and seeing it all the way through. Art and the process of making it are also about seeing an idea through to the end. Artists can be extremely stubborn and annoyingly self-assured, believing in the “mystical” power of art, especially theirs, to communicate to us mere mortals. For the most part this attitude works, but it’s also how they get their asses kicked sometimes—artistically speaking of course. There are many parallels to be found between art and an ass whooping. You just have to look. But alas, I’m jumping ahead of my story.