It’s so energizing to be around really passionate people—in fact, they’re the only kind I want to be around these days. I saw my old friend Micah last night and, even though it’s been months, we have one of those great friendships that easily transcends any potential barriers built up from time and distance. He is Mr. Film—which is to say he loves movies, knows more about movies than anyone I know, and is so interested in everything surrounding them that the excitement can’t not rub off on you in his presence. I recognize the way he lights up about them simply because that’s how I feel about writing and reading, but I also like that his passion is somewhat foreign to me. I like movies, but I don’t necessarily love them—I rarely ever watch them, actually. It has something to do with my severe lack of patience and the near-constant feeling that if I have free time it should be spent with words in some capacity, above all else.
But I can definitely attribute what little knowledge I have of film to this friendship, not simply because he’s educated me on certain things, but also because since we met years ago his presence has instilled in me the niggling feeling that I should be paying more attention to that cultural arena. I’m so glad for this, because even though my curiosity about all things culture is pretty voracious on its own, knowing that someone I care about really cares about something always adds a little fire under my proverbial need-to-learn-more ass.
For me the joys of film come from the reviews, as there are a few great writers out there whose pieces easily stand alone—with or without the reader having seen the film. I’m particularly fond of Matt Zoller Seitz at New York Magazine and Manohla Dargis at The New York Times, but last night I asked Micah whom I was missing out on. I knew that my mainstream choices had to have been shrouding a bunch of lesser-known but equally talented creatives. Enter The Dissolve into my life—something I’m sure you all knew about long before me, but hey, to each their own, right? He described it as the Pitchfork of movies, so naturally I was intrigued. (Ed note: For all the older folk who read this blog, Pitchfork is a well-regarded/polarizing/somewhat ruthless music review site.)
I’m a big believer in the notion that to be a great writer, especially one whose subject matter is cultural-social (which basically encompasses everything, does it not?), you have to be well versed in the various arts in a buffet-style way, rather than, say, simply opting for the tasting menu. I am nowhere near this yet, but I have begun to see this wide-ranging cultural consumption as some sort of self-inflicted duty. And it’s not just the arts—but politics, too. For an opinion to hold any weight, I think, you really need to know about the wider world that your tiny little thought is swimming in. Your contribution is one of the extras on a highly elaborate stage, and if you hone in too close to that one thing (without at least weighing it on some level against the larger world), your ideas will remain in a vacuum.
So, other than vibing with most of my friends on a purely personality-driven level (studies show they’re all hilarious), I also get off on all that they have to teach me. There are those who are more philanthropic, working like human-form reminders of my selfishness and need to reduce it in light of larger causes. There’s the one who loves math and classical music in equal measure—a feat I believed to be impossible, or at least, extinct. And there are the globetrotters who would shit all over my attempts at filling in a map (geography being my #biggestdownfall). The list goes on and on and on.
The point is: friends who get pumped up by things that you initially could care less about are, in my book (see: that of Jess, rather than Job), the best friends to surround yourself with. It’s lovely to have things in common, of course, but I really think differences, in this regard, are the greater uniting force. I listen to myself talk enough as it is, I don’t need numerous clones to further reinforce my insanity. So, I say, go forth and be ignorant amongst your better-educated-in-some-way pals, take a bite out of their cookies and give them a few crumbs from yours. Whatever it is that you want to be really great at (writing or not), I have no doubt that their delights will help to enrich your own.