I am graduating from college in one semester, and the economy is still ready for burial, the job market has tanked, I am in student loans up to my ears, and I have about six months before I have to figure out what to do about all that while somehow also figuring out the general direction I’d like my life to take.
This is as nice and comfortable a place as you imagine it to be. I’m sure everyone is jealous.
I’ve had some stellar ideas for how to solve these problems:
- Get a job in hospitality. Free housing, probably some free meals, and I’m sure the glamour of living at a resort will last for days.
- Marry rich.
- Move back to my hometown in Southern California, and get a job in the movie industry. (If you live within a couple hours of Hollywood, you are required to do this at some point in your life. Alternatively, you may write a screenplay).
With so many appealing options in my grasp, I didn’t know how to narrow down the list.
Then I read Werner Herzog’s Conquest of the Useless, and discovered I could cross Hollywood off of it; as his reflections on the making of Fitzcarraldo prove, I am not crazy enough to work in the movie industry.
Herzog’s book does such a magnificent job of capturing his own brand of crazy that, for a while, you’ll think you are. The vision that seizes him captures you, too. The journal entries read like poetry in some places, like prose in others, and either way, you are so caught up in the impossible magnitude of the film Herzog wants to create that you too are willing to put up with the feet of mud he trudges through and the omnipresent insects.
It is only on putting the book down that you realize one of the sentences was about Herzog trying to find a place to drink his coffee where he wouldn’t accidentally eat a mosquito while taking a swig. That he didn’t sleep for several nights because the rats made too much noise. That he gets injured, feverish, and his foot swelled with pus--yet he keeps going because his vision tells him he must find a way to get a large steamship up a hill.
And then you are more than a little disillusioned about Hollywood as a whole. It is not a glamorous place filled with directors sitting in expensive restaurants, discussing whether a new film should be shot on the beach in Hawaii, or if the beach in California will do. It is a place filled with maniacs. Maniacs who are also geniuses of unbelievable skill, talent, and dedication, but maniacs nonetheless.
Maybe I should be a bartender.