Self-consciousness. You Can’t Take It With You. Frank Capra. Lawrence Of Arabia. Masturbation (again) vs. Composing.
Roger CortonWe’re once again in that in-between time.
JCHYou mean all those months and years when people wonder what the hell I actually (cough) ‘do’ all day?
RCWhat do you do all day?
composing is a lot like being a porn actor. The person ‘performs’, knowing that ultimately he/she is going to be seen by lots of people for an audience BUT–and this is the crucial part–he’s actually alone while ‘doing it’. And I would suggest that for most of those performers, it’s the fact that they are in a private room that makes it possible for them to do what they do.
JCHYa know that kills me. Because every woman I’ve ever been with who was not married to me wonders exactly the same thing. And I’ve decided that it’s one of those great big lies that people tell in order to get along with one another.
RCWhat great big lies? He said, not really wanting the answer.
JCHA couple come to mind. The first is, like I said, “What do you do all day?” People with ‘normal’ jobs simply don’t ‘get’ how much work this so-called career is. I’m not whining.
RCIt sounds like whining.
JCHIt’s not whining. I’m just saying that it’s one of those deals that you can’t imagine because you show up for work every day. It’s insane how much work there is in doing ‘nothing’.
RCJust ask Seinfeld (laughs). And the other thing?
JCHJust be yourself.
RC(laughs) Son, even if you’re not an artiste, you know that’s a total lie. If you want to stay married, do NOT be yourself. Under any circumstances!
JCHRight on. See I was watching ‘You Can’t Take It With You’ the other night. For those of you who poor souls who have not had the same benefits of cultured upbringing as I, all I can say is WATCH IT!
RCSo how can you create anything with someone around?
JCHI wait for them to GET THE FUCK OUT. Nicely, of course. It’s all a trick. There’s only one small detail.
JCHSurprise! I don’t tolerate ‘surprises’ well. I do NOT want someone sneaking around watching me work.
RCBut they all want to, right?
JCHRight. It’s human nature. And it puts me in the classic Lawrence Of Arabia position.
RCWhich position is that?
JCHThere’s this great scene where Lawrence, who is a totally sensitive new-age guy, just LOSES IT. He’s told that he must execute a thief according to ‘Sharia’. And he refuses because he thinks it’s barbaric. But then he sees that the thief is actually a friend. And that flips him over the edge.
JCHHe shoots the guy because he’s too sensitive. It turns out that his friend is actually a thief and that disappointment is what does it. It’s almost something a woman would do in an old B&W movie. You know, the wife screams, “You can’t execute him, he’s my husband!”. Then the cop, “I’m sorry ma’am, but he’s not only a murderer, but ALSO an adulterer.” And then, “Oh, Fred! How could you! Officer, give me that. I’ll shoot him myself! BLAM!”
RCSo the point is?
JCHIf I had a dollar for every person who snuck in to watch me work and then got screamed at…
RCYou’d have a small fortune.
JCHRight. And the maddening thing is that I TELL them ahead of time. But they simply don’t believe me. If you sneak in, I’ll go ape shit. And they refuse to believe it.
RCOR, they just can’t imagine someone would be that ‘sensitive’, given that they have only good motives.
JCHRight. And it’s reflexive. You could be Pope Francis and I’d still wanna beat you with a lead pipe if you try to watch me while I’m working. It’s the one thing I have in common with gun owners.
RCA taste for violence? (laughs)
JCHNo… a respect for absolutes. People tell me, don’t ever touch Daddy’s gun. Or don’t ever bug me while I’m watching Oprah and I’m like, “Cool, baby. No problem.” I wouldn’t be like, “Oh that’s just silly.” If it really matters that much to you? I don’t have to understand. I just have to know that it matters to you and I’m there. But most people these days really seem to have a problem with that.
RCHey, land of the free, right?
JCHMaybe that’s what it is. But all I can tell ya is that every creative person I’ve run across feels the same way. We’re most all true introverts and the idea of having someone watch me ‘work’ is about as appealing as having someone watch me jerk off.
RCI was waiting for you to work that in there.
RCBecause it seems like you wait for chances to work in cringe-worthy topics. And then you expect me to play along, just to see how I’ll react.
JCHBut don’t ya see, it’s PERFECT. Think about ninety percent of porn. It involves a woman playing with herself and the guy walks in and goes, “Hey now. What haaaave we here!” And she? She supposedly looooves his reaction and then they go to town. Now Roger, in all honesty, does that ever happen in real life?
RCNot to me, pal.
JCHNot to anyone! NOBODY I know wants people seeing them masturbate. Well, that’s all composing is. You’re figuring out how to pleasure YOURSELF but at the same time, you’re expecting other people to enjoy the end product.
JCHI say again: composing is a lot like being a porn actor. The person ‘performs’, knowing that ultimately he/she is going to be seen by lots of people for an audience BUT–and this is the crucial part–he’s actually alone while ‘doing it’. And I would suggest that for most of those performers, it’s the fact that they are in a private room that makes it possible for them to do what they do. I would suggest to you that, if there really were hundreds of people in the same room ogling, they’d have a LOT fewer performers.
RCYeah, but there are lots of strippers.
JCHThose are like people who play in cover bands (laughs).
JCHComposing is a lot more private and personal. You’re really spilling your guts. That’s why I liken it more to jerking off. You’re not so much ‘performing’ as you are writing in your diary.
RCWriting in your diary…
JCH…while jerking off. Yeah, it’s tricky (laughs). And no matter how much fun you’re having, or how great things are going, you do NOT want someone else watching you engage in that process! I’ve made the same offer to every woman I’ve ever been with: Masturbate in front of me, and you get to watch me work.
RCDidn’t think so. By the way, you never did answer the question. What do you do all day?
RCI should’ve seen that coming.
JCHNow that was witty. Seriously.
RCAs you like to say, I have a small piece of unasked for advice.
JCHGo for the gold.
RCHow many would-be opera composers do you know who openly discuss masturbation? My question is actually, do you think that this topic either a) helps or b) hurts your efforts to market yourself as a serious composer?
JCHYou may have a point there. I mean, I do market the Detroit score to high schools. I suppose the average PTA might look askance at posts like this (laughs).