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History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days. What is the worth of all this? The only guide to a man is his conscience; the only shield to his memory is the rectitude and sincerity of his actions. It is very imprudent to walk through life without this shield, because we are so often mocked by the failure of our hopes and the upsetting of our calculations; but with this shield, however the fates may play, we march always in the ranks of honor.
When we are shown scenes of starving children in Africa, with a call for us to do something to help them, the underlying ideological message is something like: Don’t think, don’t politicize, forget about the true causes of their poverty, just act, contribute money, so that you will not have to think!
Confucius was not so much a philsopher as a proto-ideologist: what interested him was not metaphysical Truths but rather a harmonious social order within which individuals could lead happy and ethical lives. He was the first to outline clearly what one is tempted to call the elementary scene of ideology, its zero-level, which consists in asserting the (nameless) authority of some substantial Tradition.
Music, for the moment, has been this hidden thing for me. For the first time, I am master of something. I am not used by someone else, like in movies or pictures, where you always have the happiness or disappointment of knowing it’s you seen through someone else’s point of view. You go to see a film and half of the pretty scenes are not in it-the ones you liked. Living with this frustration all the time, suddenly music came as the best thing for me at home, where no one can tell you anything.
It would seem to me… an offense against nature, for us to come on the same scene endowed as we are with the curiosity, filled to overbrimming as we are with questions, and naturally talented as we are for the asking of clear questions, and then for us to do nothing about, or worse, to try to suppress the questions.
I don’t get the jitters and I don’t get nervous, because I build that comfort on set for myself. Sometimes if I’m gonna do something really crazy, it helps me to yell or look like an idiot on set, so that when I’m about to do a scene, I’ve already embarrassed myself. I find ways to work around getting the jitters.
Barack is at a level where he can’t – no matter how much he wants to or how much we want him to – he’s not going to come take out our garbage, so to speak. He can’t be the garbage man and the president. He can’t be the mayor and the alderman. He can’t fill all those roles. So I always push for local, local activity on the political scene.
On True Blood — I’ve never told anybody this—but I was so nervous and I was so drunk that after I shot the scene I was going up to the crew members — and I had just met all these people the day before — and I was going up to all of them like, ‘You got a boner! You do! You’ve got one!’ It was horrible. Horrible!
The only episode which was completely my idea was for Mitch Pileggi, the actor who portrays Skinner, the Assistant Director of the FBI. He appears often in the series, but only for a few scenes. You know virtually nothing about him. I wanted him to have an episode that was his alone, so I wrote Avatar for him. He even has a scene that’s pretty . . . hot [knowing smile]. He was very happy.
The only time I felt like a weird exploiter – even though I knew I wasn’t one – was when I was writing a sex scene between me and my adorable co-star [Adam Driver] in which he had to tell me how much he loved my potbelly. It seemed like a weird wish-fulfillment thing, where I’m directing my own fantasy.