Real Acting and Homeostatic Validity
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Jan Cox Talk 160, May 30, 1985, runtime 1:20
Notes by TK
Real Acting requires that you know that “it is just an act”–you cannot become consumed by your act. The Continual Act (TCA) is not for any reason. Can’t be attacked, you can’t be offended, etc. because this is just an act: “not me”. If you are aware of TCA it can’t be too subtle–just enough act that you are aware of it.
Homeostatic Validity. The voices in Life constantly decry the tendency of people to overdo everything; that things are always taken to the extreme before people come to their senses and rectify the error. Example of “spender’s anonymous”: law abiding person who runs up $50,000 on credit and has the law on their tail and needing to declare bankruptcy before realizing “Maybe I have a problem with compulsive spending!”. Things must go to extremes, must overbalance. Connection to the interacting process of the 3 forces, their confluence-confrontation.
Overbalance is required for a homeostatic stability to exist. The voice decrying this constant overdoing = E force. Resistance is required for stability (thus, foundation for growth). Example of fencing or martial arts; the inexplicable enragement with a child who won’t respond; the trial of Jesus etc. Therefore, events which appear absolutely unredeeming for growth of Life at least have validity as resistance for necessary stability.
Consider: Health = conflict. No conflict, no health, no growth. Strength of diversity; weakness of homogeneity. “aging gracefully” is a myth. Everybody is programmed to age ungracefully, to furnish resistance. Increasing alignment with D.
You should ask yourself: If Life’s perception of itself were exclusively thru me, how would it perceive of itself? Would it go around with the blues? Entertain suicide? What would you do to Life?
You can use Real Acting and the technique of reversing the current (reversing, returning the energy another transfers to you) to deal with difficult Life circumstances.
TCA conserves AMV12 because it disconnects the absolutely mechanical process of you being you–a process which consumes all available AMV12.
Never discuss behavior resolutions of This Thing with yourself. Such discussion mechanically carries its own resistance and is therefore useless to doing This Thing.
“Fear of failure” doesn’t exist in action itself, just the fear of actual injury may. Thinking of action is what carries the fear of failure; it requires support of words and the Yellow Circuit.”
The astounding strength of Life to grow = resilience. Speed of computers analogy and stock car racing analogy: almost immediately after working on computers and being amazed at the rapidity of its functioning you grow impatient with its slowness. No sooner are the time trials times posted than the drivers are burning to better them.
1. take 2 30-min. walks: specifically stop your vocal self in daydreams. 2. Create title for a story that would fit on a single page (appropriate to This Thing). Don’t write the story; just write down title; it should be a grabber, fascinating and captious.
Real Acting and Homeostatic Validity
Document: 160, May 30, 1985
Copyright (c) Jan M. Cox, 1985
It’s time for me to say a little more about Real Acting. The last time I mentioned this, someone came up with a good question which I’ll use as a jumping off point to expand the subject. To paraphrase, it went something like, “Trying to consider what you meant by “real acting,” I thought it might be useful to look at serious professional actors out in the world. For example, a “method actor” tries to get into the shoes of the part he’s playing. If he’s playing a junkie, he might go out on the street and live with junkies, attempting to imitate their speech and gestures. He might even look for something in his own background that produces the same sort of “feelings” in himself that he imagines junkies feel. The question being, if I got into a part that heavily, wouldn’t I be in danger of becoming the part? How would I be any better off than the “me” part I’m already playing?”
The question is a good one, if for no other reason than it pushes the description of ordinary acting to such an extreme that it begins to crack, and those of you interested in This have no choice but to begin to See around the edges. First of all, the word “act” is just a name. I chose it because you’re familiar enough with ordinary acting that you have some place to begin, but what I mean by Real Acting goes far beyond any ordinary description, or any ordinary understanding. Real Acting would, in a sense, be almost the exact opposite of ordinary acting. An ordinary actor tries to become so absorbed in his part that he becomes the part, therefore, he reasons, he has no choice but to act the part, and he is not far wrong. Real Acting, on the other hand, would not absorb the awareness of the person doing the acting. Instead, it would be as if the person was in a sort of “ultra-circuit consciousness” from which he could simply be aware that acting is going on. Acting is going on, and it has no particular purpose; it just is.
Acting is always going on, everywhere, for everybody. You are acting when you try to impress someone, when you look in the mirror and rearrange you hair, when you throw a little temper tantrum, or when you jump into bed with your mate. You are acting when you seem to be sitting quietly by yourself doing nothing. It’s all show biz. A professional actor out in the ordinary world merely has wired into him a propensity to play “acting” more visibly and more often than other ordinary people. He has what people call a “talent” for it, in that his biomolecular organism more flexibly imitates other biomolecular patterns. And an ordinary actor can get caught up in his part to the point that flexibility becomes sloppiness; he no longer knows whether he is Larry, or John playing the part of Larry. Carried too far, he’ll find himself down on the funny farm with other Larry’s of all shapes and sizes, and that is where you’ll find ordinary acting gone to the point where it not only cracks, but melts down and fuses into the cracks. Life just lost John and gained its 264th Larry.
This, of course, is far removed from what you want to accomplish by acting. First of all, if you are interested in This, you are more or less safe from funny farms. You may make your own funny farm in your room, alone, late at night, making faces at yourself in the mirror and choking on your own giggles, but that is another matter entirely. You are not confused, you know exactly what you’re doing, and you’re having so much fun doing it you have to close the door so other people won’t be offended by thinking they’re left out of the joke.
Real Acting requires, as opposed to a “loss of identity,” a sort of “super identity,” or as I said before, an “ultra-circuit awareness” of all the acting that is going on. Since you know it’s all acting — and you know, if you’re in this supra-state, that you’re not the act — it doesn’t really matter what you do. Now it’s your turn to play with acting. You can get above your system and try to watch how your organism normally acts, or you can toy with it, change it, try on different roles, write new scripts.
And a funny thing happens when you put yourself outside your normal role. I’m going to describe it in words, but you need to experience the reality of it for yourself (then you will have something to laugh about in your room tonight). You need to become aware of yourself as being in a continual act. Perhaps you’re sitting in the dentist’s office, waiting for a root canal. Your ordinary unconscious role is to sit there mentally wringing your hands and grumbling certain negative phrases and pictures over and over to yourself. If you get into Real Acting at that point, everything changes. It’s as if you produce a continual feeling that says, “What is going on — what happens to me, what I am “feeling” — is all an act. I cannot be attacked at all, not from what seems to be coming from outside me or from inside me. I am not what I always assumed was me. I can’t be offended. I can’t be laughed at. I can’t be “emotionally” hurt. I can’t even really be upset, because this is all an act.”
And the easiest way to help yourself into this Supra-Circuit state is to put on a little act, change something about your behavior, even ever so slightly, so that you know you’re acting and not just being the act. The alteration can be very, very subtle. All that’s required is that you feel the difference, feel the bend, the slight strain on your normal biochemical patterns. This slight strain will keep you alert, keep you from falling back into your ordinary part of playing “you.”
Do you see how different this is from ordinary acting, and why I used ordinary acting as a jumping-off point? The purpose is different. You’re not trying to become someone else, and you’re not trying to entertain others. You’re trying to become your not-self and entertaining YOU. And it is entertaining, I assure you. More fun than a hundred movies, back to back. More fun than the best live comedy show invented, because you’re the actor, AND the acting, AND the acted. You’re the whole shebang.
It doesn’t even matter how good you are; talent doesn’t enter into it. If you’re interested enough to do it, you’ve got the talent already. And if you look at it from a step or two higher up, it isn’t even truly necessary that you put on an act. All you have to do is be continually aware that you’re already in an act. It’s not important whether you think it’s a good act or not; the part that values the effectiveness of the act is itself part of the role. Your job is to get above all of it — the “good roles,” the “bad roles,” and the character that worries whether the role is being played well or not.
But as I said before, the easiest way to start is to change your normal behavior just slightly; there’s no way to do it too little, or, for that matter, too much. The only requirement is to do it. You are building another circuit on top of all your other circuits, in order to see the other circuits. Deeds are being done, and simultaneously, you have the awareness that the deed being done — the act — IS an act. If you go back into your memory and look for times you would call “deja vu,” you may have a little handle on what it feels like, if not some sense of how to do it. “Deja vu” was once described by someone as feeling like you’re receiving a double image of the event. You feel like whatever’s happening has happened before, but really it’s more like it’s happening twice as intensely, so it only seems as though you must have experienced it before. You’re getting a double shot of the same picture, like stereo-vision. The deed is not only being done, it almost feels as though it’s being redone at the same time. You’re aware of two layers, two levels to the situation instead of your usual single layer. And if you can Consider it, even that thought may help. An ant doesn’t worry about being limited to the ground, because the flat plane is all it knows. A bird, however, can see the limitation of level movement when a cat is after it, because he knows about flight into another dimension. I’m speaking figuratively, of course. Ants and birds neither think nor worry; but the analogy is useful.
Let me go into a little more detail about how you might begin to do this Real Acting. The easiest way is to simply change the way you physically stand or move. You normally have a very limited range of posture and movement. Try varying it just slightly. Stand a little differently, just enough that you think, “This is not me. I don’t stand like this. I don’t hold my head this way.” Or, alternatively, change the way you speak. Change the sound of your voice. Imitate someone you know; play with the sound of it. Or use different words than you normally would use. It doesn’t matter at all whether it’s different enough that someone else can tell you are “acting.” You will know. In fact, you will feel uncomfortable, because for the first time you will be aware that you are acting a part, and that the part is not your usual part. You may even feel as though everyone is aware you are playing a new part, when the fact is, no one else notices at all, and no one cares. They’re all too involved with their own parts.
Let me play like I’m changing the subject. I have a new term for you: I call it “Homeostatic Validity.” The subject of “Homeostatic Validity” touches right at the heart of one of the most ordinarily inexplicable areas of Life: the disturbing relationships between people.
When you watch someone trying to change something about themselves, it always looks as though at first they are overdoing it. I have a good example from something I saw on television the other day. A woman came on who was representing a new organization; I think it was called “Spender’s Anonymous.” She told a rather tearful story about how she became addicted to overspending: “I was a middle class, middle age person. We had a fair income, with several credit cards and a checking account. I didn’t really think I was spending any more than anyone else. Then suddenly, I had fifty thousand dollars in bad checks floating around while I was trying to cover them from one bank to another. And I was so far in debt to the credit companies I had to hide the phone under a pillow in the mornings so my husband wouldn’t hear all the collection agencies calling before he went to work. And I really didn’t think anything was wrong until there I was, sitting in the police station being fingerprinted. And they locked me into a cell, and I sat there and all of a sudden I had a little moment of enlightenment where I realized: ‘Hey, something’s wrong here.'”
You listen to such a story, and you go, “Good grief. How could anybody go that far before they realized what was going on? You mean you had fifty thousand dollars in bad checks, the credit companies were calling you, the sheriff was chasing you around the city, and you’re going to tell me they had to lock you up in jail before it suddenly came to you, like a flash, ‘Hey, maybe I’ve been overspending.'”
Or maybe you hear someone talking who used to be an alcoholic, and now he’s giving lectures all over the country about how he used to be an alcoholic. He says, “Yes, I was a computer designer. I was making $89,000 a year. I had a new car, I had three girl friends, and every day I would hang out at the bar having stimulating conversations, and one day someone asked me about my birthday party the week before and I realized I didn’t even remember I’d had a birthday, much less a party.” And you say, “Well, were you just a social drinker?” and he says, “Well, yes, I thought so.” “How much were you drinking?” “Oh, well, maybe somewhere between two and three quarts of gin a day.” And you say, “My god, how in the world? Here you are, a sophisticated man. You mean to tell me one day it struck you, the day you hit a telephone pole, totalled your new car, put seven people in the hospital, got arrested, lost your job, lost your wife — you mean to tell me then it suddenly struck you that you might have a drinking problem?”
There is a voice in Life that you should all recognize, that always says, “How in the world could things have gone that far?” But you should also recognize that Life goes too far all the time. You go too far all the time. You don’t sit down periodically and take stock of your life and think, “Now let’s see. I think maybe things have gone far enough in this one direction. I’ve had just enough to eat today, and if I eat dinner, I’ll have eaten too much. ‘Honey, forget about taking me out to the best restaurant in town tonight. I’ve had enough to eat today. I think I’ll just sit around and twiddle my toes instead.'”
Neither you, nor Life, moves in a straight line. You don’t recognize plateaus when you reach them; you recognize plateaus when you’ve gone beyond them. I’ve given you a description of Three Forces, Three Flows, that govern all movement, everywhere, in everything. Without this continual flux of movement, caused by these Three Flows, Life would go nowhere. Or rather, it would go into grid lock. Something starts out in one direction and the momentum carries it a certain distance, and by the time it reaches the end of that momentum, it’s arrived in the camp of another Force entirely. It looks as though, without a doubt, it has turned into its own opposite; where it was creative and positive, it now becomes destructive.
But do you see that if things are going to move anywhere, they can’t just go off in one direction to the end of the Universe? None of us would be standing here alive if Life moved in only one direction. A thing moves just so far, and then another force, another flow of movement, takes over. But that new force has a different direction from the first, so it doesn’t push the thing the same way it’s been going. It may push it back just the way it came, and now to you it looks like it’s turned into its exact opposite. Think of it like a game of ball, where you roll the ball on the floor back and forth between several people. If only one person pushed the ball, it would eventually stop of its own accord, by its own momentum, and that would be the end of a very short and silly game. No — if you’re going to have a real game someone has to catch the movement and direct it elsewhere. And then someone else has to catch it before it stops and push it somewhere else. If the ball comes back to you, it may look like it’s traveling in the opposite direction from the way you sent it, but hey — do you want to play ball, or not?
It only looks to you as though Life takes too many steps to get where it’s going. It looks like it wastes valuable time and energy taking one step forward, one step back, two steps to the side, then around. You just can’t See the whole picture. From one viewpoint, things have to get overdone. Things have to go too far because if they didn’t, stagnation would take over: things would be too stable. Look at the way you walk. Since the age of two you’ve become quite adept at walking without breaking a leg, but you still walk by falling from one foot to the other. You don’t move your body weight just so far and then stop and decide that’s far enough — you’d never have enough momentum to get to the bathroom. No, you fall from one foot to the other. And you’ve gotten quite skillful at it, so you don’t notice that’s what you’re doing. Life also falls from its first foot to its second foot, to its third foot, and so on. But you don’t notice how skillfully it’s catching itself with its new foot because you’re standing on top of one of the shoes, falling right along with the old foot. And it’s not comfortable, and it doesn’t feel like you should be falling all the damn time. It’s not fun. It doesn’t even look like this weird contraption you’re in should be alive, it’s so unstable. And then the person on the next foot starts to fall, and he feels like his world is falling apart.
Homeostatic Validity. The rocket ship corrects for its course, oversteers, corrects again, steers too much the other way, and keeps making minute changes to get to where it wants to go. Now I want to ask you, out of all the three possible patterns and modes, where do you think the voice comes from that says, “Hey, you’re overdoing things”? Could you finally be getting closer to an area where “E” might finally be speaking?
This goes into a place where you may have seen glimpses, but you can never remember them for long. And that place is: Life must have resistance. You say, “Yeah that’s true.” But you can’t remember it. You cannot remember that trees must be cut down and destroyed in order to build hospitals for injured children. You can’t remember that you have to plow up the earth and destroy its structure and kill worms and insects to raise enough food to feed starving people. You can’t remember because Life is polydimensional whereas ordinary consciousness can only see the foot in front of its face. The only way you can remember the necessity of resistance is to get up off the pavement and up into the ultra-circuit, where you can See all the acting going on. Where you can See the way Life walks with its three feet to get to where it’s going. Where you can See that what your forefathers labeled “evil” is merely the resistance necessary to allow Life to be alive.
Resistance is not just necessary for growth, it’s necessary for mere stability. Look at fighting, boxing, wrestling. There can be no effective attack if there is not parry. If you punch at someone and the person refuses to respond, or maybe steps out of the way, you’re in trouble. Forget growth — you won’t even be stable, you’ll be flat on the floor with a smashed nose. You need resistance just for stability. Try it any way you like. Try skating, try arm wrestling, try standing on your head, and see where you’d be without any resistance. Within milliseconds your little experiment should travel from your arm or leg right up into the Blue and Yellow stories. If there is no resistance, you are always going to be off balance.
Resistance is so necessary, that if some thing temporarily refuses to supply it, Life will catch its balance and put some in there anyway. It might put in more than you bargained for. Take a common situation, where a parent says to the child, “Now look. I know you broke the lamp. I’m mad, but I’m not really going to punish you or anything — just admit you broke the lamp. C’mon, say something! Say anything!” The child stands there, saying nothing, and the parent goes into an hysterical fit. If you want another example dig out the old story of Jesus before his accusers, refusing to either admit or deny his alleged godhood. You all know the way that story ends up, don’t you?
Look at it another way and you could say evil is necessary in order to protect good. Conflict equals health; war begets peace. And you came here thinking you might finally learn how to stamp out all the conflict in the world so everyone could know real love, real growth, real peace. The final product is growth, you’ve just never been able to See how much is involved in the entire process. If Life did it your way, promoting only peace, fellowship, and goodwill, it would go bankrupt; the corporation would fold. For you, your brain is only your product, and like Life, in order for it to grow it must have diversity. It must have not only encouragement, but discouragement. Not only progress, but resistance. There’s no way you’re going to clean everything up, because if you take out everything you call dirt, you’ll clean out the rest of your brain as well. If you take out all the parts of Life that seem evil, that seem inconvenient, that seem unnecessary, you’ll kill us all. Life would go into terminal boredom. Try acting. Try playing the role of one of those parts of Life you feel is unnecessary, inconvenient, even useless. You will be surprised. You will heat yourself up beyond your normal lukewarm temperature, to the boiling point. The energy you have been using digging yourself deeper and deeper into your particular hole will become available for true flight.