I’m reading Steve Martin’s memoir, Born Standing Up. It’s a fun read, and I find myself folding back corners to go back to certain quotes that make me smile. He self-effacingly shares a letter he wrote to a girlfriend back when he was around 20 and just starting to put together about ten minutes worth of an act. Here’s the end of the letter and his commentary on it:
Then I added:
“I have decided my act is going to be avant-garde. It is the only way to do what I want.”
I’m not sure what I meant, but I wanted to use the lingo, and it was seductive to make these pronouncements. Through the years, I have learned there is no harm in charging oneself up with delusions between moments of valid inspiration.
First this made me laugh, thinking about how many people try so hard to be avant-garde without really knowing what the heck they are talking about, covering up bad design/art/performance with a bunch of mumbo-jumbo archispeak that no one is able to follow. But then the cynic in me shut up and I smiled at the lesson Martin had gleaned from his insecurely pretentious former self. Remember to charge yourself up with delusions between moments of valid inspiration!
Martin’s performing notes he jotted down after a magic show he performed as a kid.
Image by Steve Martin, as seen in Born Standing Up.