Where to begin?
With a measure of madness, perhaps. How do we define madness? Why is the line between insanity and an awakened mind--especially in the face of amateur psychologists all over the Internet--such a thin one?
With my final--probably final, anyway--critique of Jim & Andy, my final critique of presenting this content (not to mention various clips I've found myself watching on YouTube this week) as, sometimes without any debate, either an awakening or signs of insanity?
For example, this comment from "Bill A" regarding a clip of Jim at New York Fashion Week (NYFW) 2017:
"...things happening, and there ware clusters of tetrahedrons..." [says Jim.] well folks thats [sic] some kind of psychadelics [sic] talking right there like acid, DMT, or mescaline. We shouldn't be judging the guy anyway, let him go on his psychadelic [sic] journey and enjoy it.
Some context: Jim's former girlfriend Cathriona White died September 2015 (2 years before this appearance at NYFW. Jim's deconstruction of himself for Man in the Moon was winter 1998-1999 (not sure of the exact production dates). In 2014, Jim had given a widely-shared-online commencement address at Maharishi University of Management in which, among other things, he said:
I used to think Jim Carrey is all that I was, just a flickering light, a dancing shadow, the great nothing masquerading as something you can name [--the audience laughs, though this isn't really a joke--] seeking shelter in caves and foxholes dug out hastily, an archer searching for his target in the mirror, wounded only by my own arrows, begging to be enslaved, pleading for my chains, blinded by longing and tripping over paradise.
And, he steps away from the microphone at this point, basking in the applause like a spoken word poet. (In my handwritten notes from earlier, watching this speech of his, I wrote: and he dramatically steps away from the mic--this is poetry, performance. This is still ego, just pretending at something bigger.)
NYFW, 2017, reporter asks Jim, "Is it true you're wandering the streets, you need a date to the party? What's up?"
Jim replies: "I'm doing just fine. There's no meaning to any of this. So, I wanted to find the most meaningless thing that I could find, come to, and join... You've got to admit, it's completely meaningless." And, I have a problem with this. Regardless of deliberately attending a fashion event because you think it's meaningless, my problem is quite simply that he's wrong. It may mean nothing to him, but that does not mean it is meaningless. Objectively. Jobs depend on this event, careers depend on this event, lives depend on this event. It is specifically an event "celebrating icons" and Jim declares that "just the absolute lowest aiming possibility that we could come up with."
He doesn't believe in icons. "I don't believe in personalities," he tells the reporter. "I don't believe that you exist, but there is a wonderful fragrance in the air." Which is demeaning, dehumanizing (deliberately, mind you), and offensive while also presuming an agreement that is entirely unlikely. She's reporting an event celebrating icons, she believes these things matter, these there to comment on how they matter. He reduces her to a fragrance and an idea, at best.
CUT TO: August 2017, a short doc (available on YouTube) called I Needed Color, about Jim and his newfound love of painting. Nevermind the privilege on display in the massive canvases he can afford, the paint he dabs liberally onto those canvases, the scaffolding he's got in his home (I assume it's at his home) studio for painting on a canvas that it bigger than all of the canvases I've painted on put together. The same privilege that comes out late in Jim & Andy when Jim talks about how he doesn't want anything anymore, he doesn't have ambition. One of the faces he paints is Jesus. He wants it to mean something. He explains:
I don't know if Jesus is real. I don't know if he lived. I don't know what he means but the paintings of Jesus are really my desire to convey Christ consciousness. I wanted you to have the feeling when you looked in his eyes that he was accepting of who you are. I wanted him to be able to stare at you and heal you from the painting.
CUT BACK TO: September 2017, New York Fashion Week. The reporter says to Jim, "You don't believe certain icons have the power to make change, to think differently, to be bold, to inspire others' artistry? You're one of them."
He responds, inexplicably with James Brown lyrics, "On the good foot."
I ask, who is this Jesus that Jim is painting? Who is this "you" that he is supposed to heal? Back when Man on the Moon came out, Jim said in an interview, that "grief and sadness and all these things are the ticket home to nothing." He tells Entertainment Weekly (maybe it's even the same interview, my notes got a little convoluted), "There was no me at the end of it all. I realized... this character was making choices to play a character." He has dismissed Andy (and Tony) as a character, but he has also now dismissed Jim as a character. Something constructed over the years, and now left behind for a "peace beyond personality". That's a line that comes up in his MUM commencement and in one of the interviews I watched. That there is peace beyond personality. That depression comes from holding onto the constructed self. Which, let's run with it, say he's absolutely right. Maybe he is. I've been depressed. Hell, recently, I've been dealing with my ongoing depression a bit. I know what that nihilistic need for self-destruction is like. I know that peace of stepping outside the situation, outside that body in that place, outside the pain. He might not be entirely right, but he is not wrong. The thing is, this is more of the privilege of being Jim Carrey. And, I use that phrasing deliberately. Really, it's the privilege of being anyone who has money, anyone who has the means to sit back and do whatever because there are residuals or dividends paying out all the time. But, I want to put it on Jim, specifically. I mentioned the other day the moment when younger Jim looks briefly sad after joking about the time when he will be so famous as to not be able to walk down the street. I feel for that guy, but I imagine his hopes and dreams as something far bigger than the... awareness? or whatever it is that talking-head Jim has in the Jim & Andy framing. I imagine his hopes and dreams as something better.
September 2016, a year after Cathriona killed herself, a year before that NYFW interview, Cathriona's husband--
(She and Jim met in 2012, they were together at the time of her death, but she was married to Mark Burton from 2013 until her death.)
--filed a wrongful death lawsuit. USA Today reports, "Burton's suit attempts to strip Carrey of his 'grieving good guy' image and paints him as reckless and deceitful before and after White's death." Cathriona overdosed on prescription drugs, Ambien, Propanolol, Percocet. The lawsuit alleged, among other things:
After obtaining these drugs illegally and under a bogus name ('Arthur King'), Mr. Carrey proceeded to provide the prescription drugs to... Cathriona White [despite knowing that White was] prone to depression and had previously attempted to take her own life.
What a terrible shame. It would be easy for me to get in a back room with this man's lawyer and make this go away, but there are some moments in life when you have to stand up and defend your honor against the evil in this world.
I find "honor" a strange word for the guy who a year later insists he doesn't believe in personality. From the guy who in 2013 published a children's book about an ocean wave who finds enlightenment (and release from his fear of dying against the shore) in understanding he is just part of the larger ocean. A book that Jim says expresses his beliefs.
Meanwhile, in a video on the book's website, he talks about his daughter--with whom he recorded songs to go along with the book--blossoming, and that book--How Roland Rolls--includes other waves, Shimmer and Gnarly, with distinct personalities. And, in my handwritten notes:
"I watched her blossom" about his daughter Jane. But WHO is he talking about if personality doesn't exist? This belief system is unsustainable.
And it's the inconsistency that gets to me. I thought I might explore today the line between mental illness and supposed spiritual awakening, but there is still something so performative in what Jim is doing. He attends NYFW while clearly depressed and nihilistic, really going through something. And, he doesn't avoid the reporter, doesn't avoid the cameras. He does what he has been doing for years. He talks. He expresses himself. This self may be something new, but it's still an invention, still a construct.
Or... Let's side with Jim again. He has found enlightenment. He has found that peace beyond personality. He can find it. He has money. He has a nice house. He has that studio where he can paint whenever he wants to. Most of us cannot do that, no matter how real it is, no matter how real we want it to be.
And, for the record, I do not want it to be. Personality makes things interesting. I was a communication studies major, so I will jump right onto the bandwagon of saying that our personalities are constructs, but I have no problem with that. I see that as a positive.
October 2016, Cathriona's mother sues Carrey for wrongful death. Her lawsuit accuses Jim of "giving her daughter--who dates the actor on and off prior to her September 2015 death--prescription drugs, as well as sexually transmitted diseases, and being verbally abusive," according to Us Weekly. "Carrey's abuse included" according to this complaint,
but was not limited to, Carrey giving MS. White three STDs without warning her... lying to her about it, 'dumping' her out of concern for saving his own carefully crafted public image, calling her a 'whore' and shaming her, and then using his high-priced Hollywood lawyers and 'fixers' to intimidate and threaten her in an effort to silence her.
Carrey's attorney Marty Singer, called this an "attempt to capitalize on Cathriona's suicide."
And there this line from Jim that bugs me, given his "enlightened" notions that seem to predate this period: "Cat's troubles were born long before I met her, and sadly her tragic end was beyond anyone's control. I really hope someday soon people will stop trying to profit from this and let her rest in peace."
Beyond anyone's control. He calls life a "story" in Jim & Andy. He no longer believes in personalities because you have to "live your true man". But, Cathriona's own depression was beyond anyone's control? Like Jim's actions on and around the Man on the Moon set were beyond his control? There is a deeply troubling privilege in separating oneself from blame like this. Jim claims (and it seems to be a joke, sort of) that Universal didn't want the footage that makes up so much of Jim & Andy released because it would make him look like an asshole. It does that. It makes him look like an asshole, both entirely full of himself, and somehow beside himself, outside himself, beyond himself.
Because he can afford to be.
Because, when something is his fault--and I won't claim any knowledge beyond the lawsuit claims above, nor do I necessarily believe the claims of Cathriona's husband and mother, but if their claims were accurate, it wouldn't matter, because "Jim Carrey" is above all that.
In I Needed Color, there's an interesting segment. Jim explains, "I don't know what painting teaches me. I know that it just frees me. Free from the future--"
And, the doc shows a painting he's done of the Statue of Liberty, a neon NO VACANCY sign.
"--free from the past--"
A painting of a hand, a butterfly landing on one finger. Text on it says, "And in that moment he was freed from the prison of becoming"... Which seems to me very much a line about the past, about Jim's history of inventing and reinventing himself.
"--free from regret--"
And, I don't know what this painting means, exactly, just the word MORE four times in giant letters.
"--free from worry."
And we see a painting I rather like. A vibrant mess of colors, the edges still white. Shark fins trail through the colors, swimming in and around the center of the mess, and there's red paint around the center of this swirl.
I like it. It's a good externalization of worry.
Meanwhile, in the present, Jim is in the public spotlight again with his political paintings. (And I've skipped right past his antivaxxer stuff.)
And I just wonder how big that canvas is.my control