Spalding Gray struck me as the perfect balance of author and performer, someone who wrote well and revealingly of himself and then brought that self to the stage. As a long time Gray fan, I was anticipating the release of The Journals of Spalding Gray this month until I read the excerpts printed in today’s New York Times Sunday Magazine. Yes, Gray is introspective and thoughtful, curious as to who he is and why, just as he was in his monologues (if not as deeply as in his published work). But something seemed lacking, something prevented my usual embrace of his story. And I realized that I was getting only half of Gray, the writer without the performer. And I was disappointed in myself for needing the visual, the audible, the theatrical factor that made Gray unique.
One excerpt caught my attention.
Problems with father tempted by the idea that all I do may be a reaction against my father — I look at his life and do all I can to live my life in opposition to this makes my life inflexible and rigid.
This idea of the reactionary life, particularly in light of my own father, has long been a source of discomfort and discussion. Was the protest movement of the 1960s motivated by politics or psychology? That we might be seeing it in generational terms — my 60s-’70s rebellious and politically radical generation was a reaction to the organizational and blue-collar patriarchs of the post-War generation, wasn’t it? The current Occupy Wall Street movement resulting from reactionary tendencies directed towards the greed-is-good generation of the ’80s and now the ’00s — it’s powered by the same motivations isn’t it? It’s a troubling question. I believe the current movement is ideologically motivated, a reaction to the conditions and the protestors’ perceived future. But ours, a generation that embraced ideals and sold out a decade and more later? I’m not so sure–Cabbage Rabbit