Method Living

Pre-Script: No spoilers ahead.

In Christopher Nolan’s brilliant period sci-fi drama* The Prestige, an old Chinese magician lives his act. It means the following: He understands that his flagship magic trick, to look surreally magical, needs a heavy personality quirk. To ensure that he can pull this quirk on stage, he lives with that quirk off-stage. Every day, through his life, he ‘lives’ his act. It’s quite a small scene, and almost irrelevant to the movie; but for some reason, it hit me that there is this guy who is willing to live an act, consciously, forever. I will not get into acts that we live unconsciously, or sporadically, or with temporal profit in mind for some limited time. This is an act that a person lives – forever. Method Living? Perhaps.

Today, I had a night long conversation with Yakshi, and as we go to a couple of people we know, he claimed that they were Method Living. It reminded me of a close friend who Method Lives. The quirk is in his voice. He’d know it if he reads this. It made the movie seem far more real, and far more hard hitting.

These quirks that Method Livers inculcate in their lives are mostly profit driven. I either want to make the world believe that I am something that I am not, or I have a far simpler commercial motive like the magician in the movie. The former is something that we are all capable of: we either don’t, or we don’t notice; or we do. The latter, though, is something that would require me to possess a degree of passion towards my profession that would transcend my life.

Speaking of passion, along with Susan Orlean’s character in Adaptation, I keep wondering if I will ever have a passion that will consume me – at least make me cut a finger or two, let alone give my life.

* – Christopher Nolan’s quote describing his movies: The term ‘genre’ eventually becomes pejorative because you’re referring to something that’s so codified and ritualised that it ceases to have the power and meaning it had when it first started.

10 thoughts on “Method Living

  1. hi, many a times method living becomes “living”…. there are many things in life you can not live method living, it becomes real, it may be maigc or acitng, that is how some actors fall in love with their reel scene parterner. If you rememer one amarachitara sroty; where one thief was rying escape whein he was stealing , he just put some ash and sat a yogi, the people who had come to search him , found a yogi, and they gave all respects and his reputation grew day by day, one day he thought,’as a duplicate one I get so much of respect and If I am real one what would be, and he became one, Do you rember this Teju?

  2. i believe, everyone of us lead a method living life.. for ex: we dream of ourselves to be reaching greater heights or the heights which we set for ourselves first and then act accordingly to reach that level.. that means we act on a life which doesnt exist or which is not part of our life to that point… once we reach what we dreamed for.. we change the method to the next one…. i believe, great pictures are the one’s which are capable of making the audience realize that the life , the artist is living, is nothing but a projection of our lives at somepoint which we dont even realize consciously…

  3. @Anonymous: I thought about this aspect of our lives while I was writing the post, and wondered whether we are all actors at that level. We are, I am not denying that.

    But my idea of Method Living is slightly more tangible. Traits that are less ‘abtract’ or ‘vague.’

    Imagine someone who has to fake an accent all the time; I mean, even when he is with his nearest and dearest. But he can see that if he is alone and speaking to himself – the accent is not there. It might become habitual, and the put on accent might become his true speaking style – it would cease to be an act then. But I am talking about things that don’t become habits, or can’t become habits.

    Say, someone who has to force a limp on himself everyday, whenever and wherever he is in company of people. He might limp forever, but I don’t think it’ll become a full blown naturalized habit. Or maybe it will, but what about the time till then? What kind of passion does it take for a person to pull it off?

  4. I believe Stephen Covey’s funda in this statement…

    We are nothing but our habits..Our charcter is made of habits..Infact just imagine the pressure Aishwarya Rai would have to step out of the house without a makeup….She has to live with the pressure of looking beautiful…Not a big one, but still…

    Quoting stephen covey
    Our character is a collection of our habits, and habits have a powerful role in our lives. Habits consist of knowledge, skill, and desire. Knowledge allows us to know what to do, skill gives us the ability to know how to do it, and desire is the motivation to do it.

    The idea is to keep evolving and evolving and voluntarily enforce a change….
    Why, you may ask ?

    The motive may be gain or probably anything to energise yourself….

  5. If we look at it in terms of decision making, its a trade-off. A trade-off between the gain (the prestige, for self or others) and the loss (the effort). A lot of things are personal in this matter. Motivation is personal, evaluation of gain/loss is personal, the state in which you are doing the thing is personal. We are assuming gains/losses to be similar for different people. For all we know, it might be the only thing left for him to do, or the only thing he could do.

    Also, it may not have necessarily started as a permanent thing (point made by the story reference). For all we know, it started as a one off gig and considering the rewards and the fact that you are better equipped to do that again, its the rich gets richer thing. Almost all the, so perceived great deeds, struggles , cricket partnerships etc. look harder when we see them as finished products (e.g. an autobiography). That fact is required to be considered here.

    I know romanticizing a concept has a kick (prestige) of its own. But two different people don’t go to the same lengths romanticizing romanticism. You feel like committing a blog to it, and I can barely comment (just an example). I wonder whether romanticism came to you with a bang?


  6. @Jatin: I understand that the motive is personal. I was just wondering about how powerful the motive was. In our plane of reference, the strength of motives is not relative I presume. So, with that established, my lament was that my motivations are never that strong – to warrant method living, or anything else for that matter.

  7. [Not totally in the context of this post] There’s another form of “method living” which has neither money, nor prestige, nor happiness as its’ motivation. The motivation doesn’t even originate from within the person. “Impressed” or “Afflicted” method-living. A person who is constantly forced by others to believe that he is someone he is actually not, may eventually start believing that the others are probably correct, and may assume the role of someone that’s not him. The “afflicting” people may have some ulterior motive, or probably may not even be aware of the truth and hence the injustice they’re doing to him.

    Also, this is not the same as that Amar-chitra-katha story. The thief was aware that the people were wrong, and consciously chose to be a yogi.


    Digression: I cannot help expressing my unhappiness over the fact that Aishwarya Rai has to figure in this post 🙁

  8. What you said is true, but again there are other things like false memory, self suggestion or x- suggestion by that you assume what you are not or you believe which is not true as truth. as another amarachitrakata story where a Brahmin was made to believe a sheep as a tiger cub after 4 thieves successively one by one told him. It too happens in our life. Similar thing had happened with Panini- a great Sanskrit scholar, later he discovered he also could do some great things like writing grammar to one of the most scientific language of the world. The society is a circus mirror and we find different images of us, most of us believe those images, rarely ignore and most of the time believing that, may be this way all of us some are other way are in “Method living”

  9. Live an act…Too f’in profound mate. I’ve told you time and again, you don’t f’in belong in our midst. (I don’t mean to .)

    Appreciation apart, what else do we do other than living our acts? We speak the language of finance to women who don’t understand money just because we are businessmen…We put on American accent and talk football to clear interviews with Americans….We act like we really have a crush on customers when all we love is their money. We do community service (and indeed do a fantastic job at it) coz we wanna network with politicians…. We carry an air of our professions (even if our only job is seeking one!) wherever we go….We grow beards if our jobs have anything to do with creativity (or if we think they do). We don’t get caught smoking a beedi or making love to a whore (it is possible to ‘make love’ to a whore) if we are well known in the society.

    Would anyone watch Jaggesh movies if he behaved like KS Ashwath off screen?

  10. [Again, totally out of the context of this post]

    But do you sit and analyse every book you read, every movie you watch or everything that happens in the world (and interests you), because you want to blog about it? Or does it work the other way?

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