Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Sam Shepard: The Last American Man (1943 - 2017)

I dunno: What is "honest"? Devotion to your work if you've been blessed enough to have been chosen to be a medium, a channeller. Respectful of that honor yet often stubbornly, sloppily rebelling against it. Being true to your dual path --- the purity, otherworldliness of the work, yet also the adamant insistence on being human...the twain meeting in attempts at fidelity in worldly relationships.

I suppose that many can say, "Well, I tried," when it comes to the dichotomy between what you know you should do and what you do. I'm not talking about people like me and our low-level choices assuaged by a song or TV show or (rarely nowadays) a poem that makes us feel better. Sam Shepard was one of those who, I think, attempted to live based on his own compass (as did poet Ted Hughes, to his own devastating emotional results). It's a tough thing to do. With consequences.

Shepard was productive work-wise until the end, but he also ended his life as a rather decrepit alcoholic after leaving his over-25-yr relationship with Jessica Lange in 2009. Conventional Wisdom very particular to today would dictate that he should have "stayed home" and "cleaned up." True, if you want to go out that way. Most of us do. He, though, had the option of choosing otherwise. And chose to be true to his utterly complicated self.



With Patti Smith





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