This morning I had a great bath - really hot, down to a freezing shower. I'm trying to feel my body more, to come to terms with being corporeal (an ongoing life-long process).
I also finished reading Box Brown's new Andy Kaufman book (First Second, 2018). It's great - his work is always great, I think - and it follows the Andre the Giant book he did nicely, focussing its lens on Kaufman's wrestling life.
I love Andy Kaufman a lot and adore the Intergender Wrestling Champ period of his life. I was getting into this when Marjan and I met (the mid-90s), and we went down the rabbit hole together. We called what Kaufman was doing Post Post Modernism (we both did English Lit degrees), and spent a lot of time trying to draw out what that meant. We entertained creating a manifesto, but never quite nailed down how to explain it: something about the relationship to reality and artifice, about holding something in between True and Not in your mind.
I wish I had known more then about the reality of "professional" wrestling because it was the best example of the idea back then: RealnotReal, total commitment to a performance, full of artifice and sincerity. Now, this idea is fully mainstream.
That same time, I had my first real interaction with Trolling (not that we had that word for it). I threw a party for a friend who was getting married in my tiny slummy apartment. His actual best man had failed to organize anything, so I and another friend had thrown it together fast. I didn't know most of the people there, just a few friends. One guest, later in the evening, started getting really obnoxious - spouting off vulgar sexist opinions to the women in the room and relishing their anger and irritation. Objections got him laughing and doubling down, and the mood got really weird.
I found it deeply irritating, and when asking him to cut it out failed to stop it, I told him to get out of my home. Bob, the friend who'd invited him, was laughing and explaining that it was funny because the guy meant none of it - it was all a "bit". He never blinked, and he did wind up leaving. It was a confusing situation, and everybody felt stupid afterward. We added "Post Post Modernism can be used for Good OR Evil" to the unfinished definition.
In better examples, the playful relationship with Truth was very interesting to me, and ultrafunny when done right. It was a new way of thinking for me. (I just realized: my first interaction with it was The Garry Shandling Show in high school.) Joe Matt's waaaay too real comics and their fallout were fascinating; Crad Kilodney's total commitment to his persona and work; Man Bites Dog - and Andy Kaufman.
What was real? Was he even dead? Pre-Google, we sought out random clips and recordings at Suspect Video and reveled in every new level. (The movie Man on the Moon was fucked, IMO. Ignore it.) Marjan and I adopted a style of joking based on saying the opposite of what we meant - Fuck You as I love you; responding to kisses by yelling Ouch! It was a lot of fun. It tickled my intellect's G spot.
Fast forward 20 years and that behaviour has become absolutely The Norm. Bold lying has its own TV channels; the president is a Pro Wrestling villain, and nobody wonders if Wrestling is real anymore - it doesn't matter, because we've evolved to not CARE. Isn't that wild?
I am enjoying the part of Aging that gives me a longer history to consider. It's interesting to see a terrible, powerful idea grow out of a smaller, sillier one over time. It's interesting to be complicit in the wide trend just by being part of a culture. It is interesting to watch the evolution of ideas, good or bad. It's interesting to live with a puzzle like Andy Kaufman, with pieces being filled in over decades.
As for the book, Is This Guy For Real: The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman is fantastic. Brown is deeply economical and shares a great deal of information without a ton of text (I'm throwing shade on you, me). He fully grasps his subject and gives a broad, full picture of the human being, as well as the relationship between the aspects of Kaufman's act. It will serve as a corrective to Carrey's obnoxious, overconfident caricature if enough people read it. So go read it.
love, your real father,