Ludicrous Ignorance of Each Other

A quotation:

From the movie My Dinner with Andre

ANDRE: Well, I think that’s right! You know, it may be, Wally, that one of the reasons that we don’t know what’s going on is that when we’re there at a party, we’re all too busy performing.

WALLY: Un-hunh.

ANDRE: You know, that was one of the reasons that Grotowski gave up the theater. He just felt that people in their lives now were performing so well that performance in the theater was sort of superfluous, and in a way obscene.

WALLY: Hum!

ANDRE: I mean, isn’t it amazing how often a doctor will live up to our expectation of how a doctor should look? I mean, you see a terrorist on television: he looks just like a terrorist. I mean, we live in a world in which fathers, or single people, or artists, are all trying to live up to someone’s fantasy of how a father, or a single person, or an artist, should look and behave! They all act as if they know exactly how they ought to conduct themselves at every single moment. And they all seem totally self-confident. Of course, privately people are very mixed up about themselves. [Wally says “Yep.”] They don’t know what they should be doing with their lives. They’re reading all these self-help books…

WALLY: Oh! God! And I mean, those books are just so touching because they show how desperately curious we all are to know how all the others of us are really getting on in life, even though by performing these roles all the time we’re just hiding the reality of ourselves from everybody else. I mean, we live in such ludicrous ignorance of each other. I mean, we usually don’t know the things we’d like to know even about our supposedly closest friends! I mean…I mean, you know, suppose you’re going through some kind of hell in your own life, well, you would love to know if your friends have experienced similar things. But we just don’t dare to ask each other!

ANDRE: No! It would be like asking your friend to drop his role.

WALLY: I mean, we just put no value at all on perceiving reality. I mean, on the contrary, this incredible emphasis that we all place now on our so-called “careers” automatically makes perceiving reality a very low priority. Because if your life is organized around trying to be successful in a career, well, it just doesn’t matter what you perceive, or what you experience. You can really sort of shut your mind off for years ahead, in a way. You can sort of turn on the automatic pilot! You know, just the way your mother’s doctor had on his automatic pilot when he went in and he looked at the arm, and he totally failed to perceive anything else!

ANDRE: Right! Our minds are just focused on these goals and plans. Which in themselves are not reality.