I have been working on a film entitled “the Saranay Motel” with my magnanimous friend Elliott Earls since June 2006. We have had several weeks of incredibly intense and incredibly rewarding (emotionally, spiritually, creatively, and intellectually) production. As we have worked the project has become more and more ambitious. In the process I have managed to become three different characters, one of which happens to be the lead singer for a death metal band named Horst Shicklegrüber & the Barbecue Army. The character's name is Les Griffin.
As a cautionary tale of how karma truly works I would like to suggest to you that if you can never imagine yourself being the lead singer of a death metal band then DO NOT create a character for a movie in which you are a lead singer for a death metal band. Because you may quickly find yourself writing and singing lyrics (wreaking havoc on your vocal cords) for a skull splittingly offensive death metal band! For example, now the alter ego I never knew I had, Les Griffin, is embroiled in an apparently never ending process of writing and singing lyrics (wreaking havoc on my vocal cords) for a skull splittingly offensive death metal band. Do you often imagine yourself drenched in theatrical blood, standing behind a lime green curtain, at a renowned Detroit music venue, until the cue for you to leap out, grab a megaphone and scream death metal lyrics at a stunned audience of hundreds? Well I never imagined myself in that scenario either, but there I was, dancing and screaming up a storm. Then tossing the megaphone and bolting through the audience. I had a bag full of crusty fake blood drenched clothes to carry with me on the plane back to Red Hook, and it only got crustier as I put off dealing with it for a month or two.
What does karma have to do with all of this? Well, contrary to our typical, superficial, feel-good, new-age notions of karma as a kind of wishing well full of good or bad vibes that may come your way due to some karmic coins you may or may not have tossed into said well, karma is actually much simpler and much more fatalistically and profoundly binding than that. The origin of the word is from the Sanskrit karman which can be translated as something like action, or effect, or fate. To contemporary Western ears the concepts of action and fate as being somehow synonymous may seem quite a stretch, but the Ancients had a different view of fate than we do. Fate wasn’t some inflexible, rigorous, and absolute form of predetermination, but a flexible, vigorous, and relative form of correlative action. Fate was something that cannot be avoided or escaped, but not something that was pre-scripted. Rather the course our fate takes is dependent on many correlative interactions. The only action and/or fate we can come closest to controlling is our own (I say closest because always there are forces at work upon us that we are not fully in control of). Our actions, our deeds, are our fate, ARE our karma. As Heraclitus said: “Ethos anthropo daimon.” That is: the character (ethos) of man (anthropo) is his fate/divine purpose (daimon). The way we act is the way we are. Not act as in “pretend,” but act as in SET IN MOTION, or cause. All action sets correlative actions and reactions into motion. Our DOING is our BEING. This profound apprehension of the fundamental connection between action and fate is something the Ancients grasped all too well. It is the basis of tragedy. And it is the knowledge that necessitates Promethean foresight.
The moral to the story? If you don’t want to be a death metal singer don’t act like one. You might end up looking like this:
You can watch the moving images here: www.theapolloprogram.com/SaranayPerfQ.html