I think if the cards had fallen differently, I would have sought to be a psychiatrist, as I am fascinated by the way peoples brains work, and the only way I can see myself is through others.
I relate to your compulsive behaviour completely. I 'suffer' from the same malady. It is still evident in how I approach this project. I couldn't even stop over Xmas, I must get these thoughts and my past out of my head. When I do, that little piece of shame leaves me. So every film makes me a little lighter, and slightly more rational. I have come to the conclusion that I will always be like that, it's how I direct the outputs that is part of my healing.
That said, your e-mail kept Max and I up until about 2am last night talking. I have so many questions for you. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org if you would prefer to use that rather than Facebook. I find writing long thoughts very limiting on Facebook.
p.s. I will write this in sections so I don't lose the last 20 minutes typing
I am going to dot point your message so I don't miss anything:
To be in touch with you with words (besides experiencing your work as an observer) excites me in my mind and in my body (i.e. I get an erection, which feels embarrassing and appropriate to mention to you).
This paragraph fascinates me. Did you mean appropriate or inappropriate?. Either way, it doesn't matter, but I wanted to know where you were coming from. It doesn't matter for this reason. The most that an artist can ever hope for is for people to react to their work. If my art 'energises' you, then I am glad, because so much art fails to elicit a reaction. I imagined that my mention of worry thoughts might lead to questions or irritations. To me it felt a bit like taking the perspective of a worried parent, worrying about the big evil world taking advantage of a child so brave and foolish to show herself so directly with all her vulnerability.
Jan, firstly, there is certainly no irritation. But there is a huge amount of curiosity. Can I ask, have you seen my film Mask'D?. I ask this because many people have the thoughts you have, indeed I do as well, but when doing a pros/cons analysis, the benefits to me outweigh where I have been mentally and emotionally for most of my life.
After reading your message, I did a lot of research on ACT, and I am fascinated by it. It's like I missed this whole movement. I was particularly taken by this paragraph:
"Instead of more struggle, we learn to open up to our experience just as it is (not as our minds say it is), to hold our thoughts more lightly, to connect with our values (what we care about in this life), and to carry our minds, bodies, and personal history forward into a more vital and valued life. This set of very simple ideas goes against just about everything we’ve learned, at least in the West, since kindergarten"
I was wondering this. I tried everything, and I mean everything to try and process my issues. Doing these films is a result of about 7 years of trying everything else. But nothing worked. My question for you is this - what I am doing strategically was developed in complete isolation from the ACT framework. But do you think what I am doing fits the ACT framework, or are there important differences/distinctions?
These worry thoughts are accompanied by very different thoughts admiring your courage and believing that this work could have a wonderful impact on me
This fascinates me. Could you explain how you see my films having a wonderful impact on you?. Is it someone doing what you would like to do, or is it something more granular and specific?
For me personally, my tendency to behave in addicted ways (reading compulsively, learning languages compulsively, playing computer games compulsively, watching porn compulsively, amongst others) goes back much further than my professional career.
I relate to this completely. You could be describing me when you wrote that.
The function in my case seems to be to absorb my attention towards an immediate satisfaction/reward/reinforcement and away from the hard work involved in pursuing a more long term satisfaction/reward/reinforcement.
I have also struggled with restraint all my life. By putting out a film every week satisfies that impulsive part of part of me. While defining this as a 250 film project gives me a long view framework to operate in. I have not cured myself, that is a long way off, but for the first time in my life, I am making progress.
This is something which also impresses me in your behavior – your willingness to put in a lot of work, over a long time, under the eyes of potentially the whole world, and actually a very large number of eyes
What I have realised is that hiding my imperfections from the world was driving me to a darker place. But flipping that around and letting the whole world see me struggling to come accept myself has the opposite effect. Yes, there is constant shame and fear of judgement, that will always be present. I think it will always be there.
in an area which in my history is linked to shame, guilt, „stealing goodies“.
Jan, may I ask what your specific issues are?
And can I ask what you mean by 'stealing goodies' in your specific case?. I totally relate to this phase, but want to make sure that you are meaning what I think you are meaning.
So for me, following your work and even having this conversation with you, feels like walking on some edge between moving away from the more important areas in my life (work, family) and opening up to a more open, „naked“ posture so fittingly captured by your metaphor of walking past the hardware store, the bakery, and the butcher. And that seems very important indeed to me.
Do you feel that walking that edge is a positive or negative situation?. And does it have to be exclusive?. eg can you balance those two inputs?. Can it be good for your work/family life and also good for creating a more naked open persona?
Would it be ok for you if I were to discuss my conversation with you with my supervisor Emily Sandoz (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jean-fain-licsw-msw/body-image_b_1760092.html)?
Of course you can, and thank you for asking. I did a lot of research on Emily also last night. I am very impressed with what I read. I love the concept of ACT 'playing hard' and also integrating humour into the process. That is exactly what I do, and yet I have been totally oblivious to the framework.
best wishes, Jan x (does the x mean a virtual kiss?)
LOL, yes, it means a virtual kiss, and a sign of respect.
Jan, thank you so much for being in contact. I don't think you will ever know how much you have engaged my brain.
If someone were to watch Mask'D superficially, they may think, given my history, that I am anti-psychiatry. I am not. I have problems with certain parts of psychiatry, and perhaps how I was dealt with. But I am intelligent enough to know that life is not black & white. There is good and bad in everything.
Thank you so much for having the courage to be in contact Jan. I may have inspired you, but I want you to know that your courage has inspired me. For that I thank you.
I would love to discuss further, but will leave that to you as forcing things has never been my way (unless it comes to hurting myself emotionally ). I know I can come off as very full on, and I tend to scare people off with my intensity. But that is just the way my brain works. I seek knowledge aggressively, and perhaps you would say I lack filters. But it is what it is. I am what I am. Accepting that is what this project is about.
Thank you for making me think Jan. It is the highest compliment I can pay someone.
p.s. Jan, I love this paragraph about ACT:
Some of us are confrontational about intellectual issues, but we don't go after people or traditions: just ideas. We are just playing hard. Why not? It is fun and can be helpful. No everyone plays hard though. if you hate folks who do, go to ACT talks (etc) by softer folks. As for mean humor, we tease those we respect. In the ACT community we use humor to remind us all that this work is not about the muckity mucks ... it is a shared enterprise and everyone is part who wants to be part and is willing to bring science b=values and caring to the table. If you come to an ACT conference you will see that the ACT / RFT leadership is outright ridiculed in the "follies" and it is just great fun. ACT is crazy (or my personal favorite variant since I'm writing this, Steve is crazy) Ah, finally you are getting somewhere. But as that Time guy said in the last line of the story -- we may just be crazy enough to pull it off.
I am confused and fascinated how this paragraph perfectly fits the framework I have developed for doing these films.
1. Don't take yourself too seriously. 2. Use humour. Make yourself laugh. You are funny and odd. Use it. 3. Attack ideas, not people. 4. Let yourself be ridiculed, and don't fear that. In fact, ridicule yourself before anyone else can. 5. And let everyone be a part of the projekt/process. Don't preach. Don't try to make people think you have all the answers. Accept that you have no idea what you're doing. That you are just trying the best way you know how. 6. Accept that you are crazy, or at least part of you is - and see that as a gift, not a burden. Don't try to cure yourself of your uniqueness. 7. Without pain, there is no great art. So see your earlier painful life as a blessing from which you can make original and important art 8. Take risks. Don't play safe. The world doesn't need another artist playing it safe and fearing criticism 9. Make your greatest challenge to be so honest that it hurts when writing it. That hurt is shame and fear leaving your body 10. Don't take yourself too seriously (repeated)
Wonderful wonderful wonderful Jan. Thank you so much. Perhaps I feel the ACT framework validates what I am doing in some way, or perhaps it just makes me feel less alone and weird, or perhaps it just tells me that there are others who also think that medicating people into non-existence & compliance is maybe not the best strategy. x