Haunting You Is My Job

In the last workshop I taught at the David Henry Hwang Writers Institute at East West Players, I told my students that I would give them a final farewell thought that would, perhaps, haunt them for the rest of their lives. I declared, "Not only is writing a play a wonderful artistic achievement, but it is also the one of the greatest opportunities for you to clarify what you believe—thereby making it one of the greatest opportunities for you to ever know your self." Ex-students still come up to me today and tell me how those words really fucked them up.

For those of you who are not writers and who think you can escape my ominous words (self-knowledge, after all, can be a frightening thing), let me tell you this: The works of art that you love and naturally gravitate to—plays, movies, books, etc.—are also means by which you can reveal you to you.

Instead of hiding your Backstreet Boys CDs every time you have a dinner party, I encourage you to sit down and take a long, hard look at what having Backstreet Boys CDs means. It may lead you to enlightenment, or it may very well cause you to have a complete nervous breakdown. So be it. "An unexamined life is not worth living," said Madonna. Well, okay, Socrates said it first, but I am more prone to listen to Madonna. (For those of you who must know, she sings that line on her criminally underrated Dick Tracy-inspired album, I'm Breathless.)

—Reporting From Glendale, California

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