A Fool Such as He

Today’s podcast is. With Bill Morrison, whose “voice” has been “heard” on this blog and previous ones many times over the years.

I have known Bill since around 1999, when Phil Snyder, whom I met online the year before, introduced us, I think by sending Bill an account I wrote of being “rescued” by an Immigrations officer called Agent Johnson, who managed to get me to Mexico for my birthday when the US government wanted to bounce me back to England. (I was on my way to San Francisco to become a movie shaman, so I had thought.)

I still have not met Phil in the flesh, but I did meet Bill in 2000, the one time I successfully got over the US border (& didn’t get snatched immediately after), and took a trip to Hollywood to try and kick start my career as a movie shaman. I have an account somewhere of my meeting Bill, but I couldn’t find it among my Word docs, so I am writing this post now, to give a little background for this week’s podcast.

A little background.

That appears to be all I’ve got, so here are a few quotes from a review I wrote of and for Bill’s cable TV act back in around 2008. Since I don’t much care for my style of writing back then (it had a pomposity to it that I like to think I’ve mostly shirked or shed), I will rewrite it rather than quote it. And then I will post this piece and be done with it.

Put bluntly, Mr. Morrison is the David Letterman for a brave new world that will never (we pray) come into being. (Since I wrote that, Letterman has retired and the brave new world appears to have arrived, though it is not the one I pretended to fear, but secretly hoped for.) In that world which Bill’s demented armchair ravings obscurely and indirectly herald—a world perfect in its total embracing of all imperfections—there would be no talk show hosts, no TV dinners, no TV at all, and, I guess, no Bill Morrison persona (on TV at least). Life would be far too interesting and bizarre to need TV personae like Bill to help us fill & kill our time, on our merry slouching way to being killed right back.

To be fair to him, Mr. Morrison’s solipsism is at times wearisome, to the viewer as much as it is (evidently) to Mr. Morrison himself. (I left that line intact because I liked it so much.)

It’s too bad that Bill’s gift is inseparable—even maybe contingent on—his obscurity. (Hmm, sound familiar?) Neither Letterman nor Leno, nor any self-respecting high priest of TV, was ever going to have Bill on their show. For obvious reasons. You can’t let nobodies into the realm of somebodies. To do so is like allowing homemade money onto the market: everything gets devalued. What, you mean anyone can make their own money? So why am I watching this guy?

Now we are in a culture of homemade TV shows (called YouTube celebrities), which is maybe why Letterman had to retire.

The moment Dave let Bill on his show, it would have been painfully obvious to everyone watching that he, Dave, had been superseded, and that a new and unstoppable mutant strain had arrived.

So in a way, I was predicting the rise of the self-made celebrity, using Bill as an example, except that Bill was never going to be a celebrity, not even within the homemade YouTube culture of Internet. Why? Because he’s original, and what the subculture on the Net does is imitate the dominant culture in such a way that it seems to be different, but isn’t really actually new.

The key to popular culture is that it never mixes “art” (commerce) up with self-expression, in other words, that a performer’s performance must always be for someone else, never for the performer him or herself. The moment it becomes the latter, it becomes something radical, subversive, and inherently unsellable. As F. Murray Abraham says to Oscar Isaac in Inside Llewyn Davies: “I don’t see any money here.”

Translation: You are singing from your soul. We can’t work with soul. Soul cannot be controlled and so it cannot be commodified. Please step away from the microphone and make room for Bob. Or Leonard.

Bill Morrison may never have become the talk show host he deserved to be, but if so that’s because, at heart, he was never a host but a virus. The moment mainstream TV allowed him through its doors of perception, and into the sleeping mind of the masses, it would have spelled the end of mainstream TV. And that is never going to happen. The whole purpose of the agency of control is to keep itself IN control, spinning the same reruns, forever.

Meanwhile, we can at least be grateful that Bill Morrison got to remain, if he did, what he most aspired to be: a marvelously, gloriously great ghost of a guy.

Or, to put it in terms of today’s talk, that he never quite managed to fool anyone enough to believe he knew who he was, and because of that, was not afraid to be the fool he secretly knew he might be.

11 thoughts on “A Fool Such as He

  1. Jasun. I just opened up to this a moment ago. I see you pretty much are using your take on MMy public accss persona accoring your ‘review’ years ago. Focusing altogether on my Public Access show, Mister Morrison. A review at the time I thought was lauditory in aspects, penetratingas to a personal analysis, one I could identify with easy enuf. At the same time, most likely like most folks intrviewed, reviewed, with a premeditated opinion, blueprint, in not the prime rason for the review, it to tie it in with a ‘bigger’ picture, using the interviewee as insider to the issue, and make the bigger point. In this case, it seems, to expose television, television talk show, as limited to kit commerical, mainstream accents out necessity that culture imposes. The last of that, my evaluation. Anyway, fine, and I’ll comment further you can bet when I get into the actual podcast. Right now I’m going to our ‘piano’ room here at the Montecito and join a piano player and singer and tenant too, to do a little ‘practicing’ for our Senior Center show Cabaret, down the street this Thursday. I am most anxious of course to listen to what you have cobbled together of our disparate subjects conversation.

  2. Jasun,

    I’m a 28 year old high functioning undiagnosed Asperger’s started listening a couple months ago. You tap into a feeling I’ve had my whole life about society and how it feels like a misdirection and distraction program. I think I have a gift for abstract intuition. Would like to communicate sometime.

      • Some thoughts I’ve been having that ruminate with this episode:

        People are not good or bad they are selfish. If they percieve “goodness” to be more beneficial to them they project that, if they believe evil will benefit them more they will project that. Ultimately, good and evil are just words as you said; people are just selfish organisms.

        A person is composed of two personas; the human animal and the human being. The animal exists from birth and tied to the body. The being is created and only exists in relation to other human beings. A person alone in the world cannot be a human being.

        Evolution and physics is the base of reality, most people prefer to abstract themselves from this truth.

        Consciousness is a virtual reality simulation that takes place inside our heads. Like being in a dome of inward facing mirrors where most people are looking out and only seeking to find reflections of ourselves. Time is simply how we interpret change and cannot be real because it is relative based on gravity and speed.

        Women are attracted to dominance (like all animals) and marry for status.

      • Also,

        It doesn’t matter if God is real or not; religion serves the same mostly unrecognized function. Religions exist simply because they tend to boost female fertility. It is a de facto result of large numbers and long periods of time.

  3. But of course if the Brave New World of Jasun Horsley transpired since then, whenever, maybe 15 years ago, be assured that. If the perfect evolution from Mister Morrison from David Letterman actually happened, say that my television inability to make it bigtime persona, developed with such uncare apparently, performing balloons as reason for erratic behaviour, a slow person who believes it is still worth it, even if it requires appearing idiotically, say that suddenly IT’S the thing! Than, yes, before he actually resigned, LETTERMAN could then be replaced by such a creature like I am talking about, me decidedly. The comedian’s comedian. A comedian no comedian wants to be. Mister Morrison. The BALLOONMAN. How?

    Well, according to the perfect television format world according to early Horsley, the idea of perfection in television hosting is mine because I am sort of anti television, and that’s where we want to get. Behold! Mister Morrison! Then as soon as that, hold your nose, here comes MM, the absolute in anti television late nite talk show, I vanish. As also nitetime television talk show hosting does, pft, disappeared altogether, because in this the ultimate late nite climate sample. it’s all been done, been thru that, what’s next? Nothing left. MM talk show host late nite spoiler in person and reigning. This manifest according the standard that once it is all learned, the exercise, the teacher is one of all the many former students and what is left is the empty throne and everybody in the chair. We all know that though eh.

    And, by the way, within that idea is parallel the absolute simpleton is to nirvana is to guru. Actually, the good life is none at all, less even than simple. Considering pure ‘being’ be resolved by its absence. In broad conjunction too, psychiatry, a psychiatrist absolute finishing truth of practice is surely perfect to the job done at last. Meaning, no need no more advice from me, fellow graduate. Get your diploma at the cave exit, In this case cured finally of bloody late nite hosting impositions and its boring implications, I am gone! MM and The Balloonman with me. Pft. Vanished. Gone with The Worst Bad Act Best Ever. Who can but be crazy for more? What is left but everybody turn ‘sane’ eh. No conflict. No laughs, no sorrows. Insanity does not live alongside peaceful quo.

    But seriously, would I have not then thus gurued myself out of variety talk show host job, since the NEED would be finished up, done. No need for any Acts interviewing other Acts. Everybody at last realizes, together of course all at once, also given the chops all at once, that they can do as well if not better. And by fact of mogrification, keep it very close to home but then the public is much the same. Or something. All Acts only for picnics! Just for the rather common fun of doing as well as everyone else. Boring each other accordingly. Tribute deserved though, for the Act as bad as it gets who left the building and the host chair, proving out the terminal action that what is left but turn off the TV. And be free? Oh, give me a break, but wait! The following reasoning considered:

    Say, accepted as Letterman quality, me, even though pretty bad really, guts for fuel, balloons as my cover, but now, using this here dialogue perfect fantasy as example, but having no longer an attitude urge to anymore explain beginning to ends far as in between is constant and automatic, and all an incessant exercise to succeed at something at least. And furthermore that this peristaltic emotion that is my Act and me, becomes entity, somebody worthwhile. The best result in pursuit of . . . wait! The perfect nitetime talk show host.

    Okay, and because, for this example, I have spread my relative radiant factor incrementally over the airwaves (Pretty high falutin talk huh if not almost too visceral) as if my scent is what will make you strong, pun intended, but thus accepted as performer extraordianire, so much so I become what nitetime television talk show host variety looks like, say all of it should look like, with anybody that has any taste left. Consequently–sorry I can’t help myself, I must I keep going–this mass encultured television culture clamors that David Letterman be replaced. Overlay his rather traditional fashion of television reflection, much of that on the tip of everybody’s tongue, so common, with . . . enter! MM! Exit Jasun’s old since passed times in which he admits he may have been a bit overwrought but actually, think about it, those times really were deplorable enuf in the first place, so thank the Great Beyond, all around, under and above, MM to the rescue! Sure. I’ll host you like you wish you could have got better sooner.

    Times should have been changed long ago, betcha, at a much faster rate but still IT remains pretty much AS IS–what then? Horsley’s proposed advanced whole world, reflected in late nite television by a new and exciting show business failure, me, but with a languishing MM sort of intelligence, wielding from the Host Chair the inarticulate of less than talent or smarts, is not possible. This dubious Act, with too few talents to start a list, while once perhaps qualified to head up a new different television reflecting an advanced life’s life and times day, in which we act . . . like a real honest-to-human nature person is supposed to act, admittedly, with nothing that much going, is finished. Moreover and better yet, he has what, if anything? Nothing much more than the balloons. Yet say this peculiar persona is Chief prescience, giving us the kind of . . . blank late nite screen world we know to be the final and last development of television’s end perfect World, having none of it whatsoever. Well, we should be so lucky.

    Yep. Horsley, his vision of television change, together with the World eh, that, shall we say, we just pretended happened, the perfect television ambiance has at last, according to fantasy, itself made itself needless and non extant since no television as it was then is better than something. Oh, oh. Now showing, the world of television! This is how bad it can get! The Perfect Bad Act, definitely alien to what is happening on current televison, put IT on! And that bunch of great talent but so uniform, and particularly David Letterman, begone! Let a man knows how to work a balloon when he has one take over and finish late nite talk show, finish it off.

    Regardless he would love to be in a Host Chair, MM, The Balloonman, taking over nightime TV, ready and able to replace David LETTERMAN. selling out if necessary what mediocrity came so naturally, but instead get smart, go for a mass relatable audience working Act, for the common good. If only his System, makeup, would allow it, but no need. Balloonman’s style that spoils regular television late nite has been realized, unrealized, alone, in his apartment along with the other similar . . . talents never to be seen.

    Nitetime ends up as it should. Something pure to the medium is the message and so why bother, since it is us. After the medium? No. The Medium is the delivery system. But a carny show that never leaves town. TV just how bad is it? In any event, MM and his guts as ‘the entertainment’ for tonite talk show, and due that there is only so much room for talent anyway, and dubious talent . . . he is long off the air. Granted, by the chin of my chinny chin chin I could have completed the perfect late nite television host circle. Fumbling the bumble and joined with its start, applause! Then pftt, poof! No longer desired, needed, wanted for the short silly experience that was different than the tiresome real talent. MM such a joy from the incessant same repeat of a talented thing. Better than David Letterman in any event, please. Except for the balloons.

    Yet credit due, considering Mister Morrison, limits, and dysfunction, never not nearly enuf rehearsed, the fool working his balloons, he could be appreciated for what he did serve. Anti talent in a great many respects, that enormous segment of average or less folk factor. So more power to those of you without that much going. But why bother to waste time on nonsense. Or recognize that my my job could have been, had I realized, now nearing a generaton away, so urgent: Replace David Letterman! When there was still a Letterman to replace. But of course, I should have thought of this then, when Jasun wrote his first analysis and review, wet behind the ears, and still emerging from Jake and I was . . . oh, forget it. In any event, at the time I was thrilled and appreciated Jasun relating me to a bigger picture than I could live up to.

  4. “To be fair to him, Mr. Morrison’s solipsism is at times wearisome, to the viewer as much as it is (evidently) to Mr. Morrison himself. (I left that line intact because I liked it so much.)”

    solipsism the view or theory that the self is all that can be known to exist.

    You bet. Stretching a point perhaps, and for some reason avoiding humour, I exist as I am so I be. And all that I expound as an Act, even perhaps ‘is’ the Act, but is as well the composition of myself ‘unmasqued’ AS IS is, I would suppose. So I AM obviously doggedly central to my expression, whatever, and that which makes me up to exist, in my opinion solely of course, is especially easy grist for material. Material thus at my fingertips so to speak, and ready for this exhibitionist on occasion to deploy. Material that I am inclined to use, once I get started and focus on something, to blabber self concernedly, sometimes almost out of control, applying my bias, this self cenered viewpoint, to all issues. Unfortunately for others, I am for extended periods of time a rather uninteresting person. Personally I don’t mind so much, but if I desired constant stimulating dialogue, I would not choose to be around. For short periods, especially flashes, I think I can be rather extraordinary, even momentarily brilliant, fueled for stretches off this self same self centered information. Than peterng out, tiring I guess of hearing what I am saying, I relent, settle to my given average and mediocrity. Stop altogether hopefully. Then resume boring common normalcy. Frankly Jasun, I was initially glad instead of solipsism you did not ascribe sophistry, which for some reason I immediately went for, heh. Diatribes, not so much with the bitter, I often apply to my work. Verbosity, oh, that one hurts.

  5. “Peristalsis |ˌperəˈstôlsis; -ˈstal-|
    noun Physiology
    the involuntary constriction and relaxation of the muscles of the intestine or another canal, creating wavelike movements that push the contents of the canal forward:”
    In other words, automatic, without thinking or in control of it, whatever. It just happens. But you know that.

    • I think the muse is a lot like an angel that visits you. The challenge is to disaccoiate your ego to an extent that gives her the invitation.

      Orgasms are peristaltic in nature.

      The entire Boomer Generation had their minds warped and homogenized by a dirth of perspective and their understanding of entertainment refixated by shallow television programming.

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