Come On. You Have No Idea Whether Jim Carrey is “Awake”.
People are talking about whether Jim Carrey has had a spiritual awakening.
He says he has. He’s been with the right people, like Byron Katie. Eckhart Tolle put him on TV to talk about it.
He shows up on Jimmy Kimmel to gaze at the audience.
He blows everyone’s mind by baffling Catt Sadler on the Fashion Week red carpet.
Then releases a gentler manifestation to dial back the truth bombs a few days later:
On my yoga-and-spirituality heavy feed, two Carrey views have developed. They repel each other like oil and water.
View 1: The majority view. These folks rejoice that someone mainstream finally Gets It, or gets them. The truth is out! There’s only one single, unified field of consciousness, dancing to entertain itself. Deepak may yack about it, but Jim really knows it. He’s seen through the illusion of himself, and his profession, and the world he moves through. He’s so not attached. He just doesn’t care about all of those events he keeps going to. And not-caring makes him the ideally detached mouthpiece of this ancient truth for the benefit of humanity. And it couldn’t have happened too soon. We’re at a crisis point.
View 2: The minority view. Jim Carrey is deluded, or possibly mentally ill. He needs healing, fast. The world can’t tolerate another spiritual bypasser. We’re at a crisis point. Jeff Brown, a filmmaker and prominent critic of the spirituality industry, summed up the red carpet moment this way:
His comments to the effect that the interviewer “doesn’t exist”, that “I don’t believe in personalities” etc. is all part of the ungrounded, self-bashing, dissociative, patriarchal spiritual philosophy that was created, and is perpetuated by emotionally unwell teachers who have chosen to pretend that they have transcended their humanness and that their unresolved issues, egoic challenges, personal stories and identifications are all illusory. In this man’s case, what he needs is to get off the self-negation path- because it will never work with someone as energized, human and vital as him- and to get below his comedic mask and heal his broken heart.
So: Is Carrey awake? Is Carrey deluded?
Eeny meeny miny mo, catch an actor by the toe…
I’m partial to View #2, because any analysis of spiritual bypassing seems to correlate with a deeper interest in social justice. That’s cool.
Also, I can’t understand how anybody sits through that red carpet interview and focuses on his speech content rather than the fact that he somatically demeans Sadler, stalking her in a circle, that he seeks to embarrass her, that he barks at her like a dog. The only reason he can get away with it is because of his social power. She has to stand there and take it.
To me, the only way you can hold View #1 is by not minding the fact that Carrey basically abuses a woman doing her job.
Of course: the philosophical point is more important than the behaviour. After all, a worldview premised on “awakening” needs a lot of sleepers. The only way Carrey can show his realization is by playing himself off against people who are dupes. Sadler is the collateral damage of a necessary dharma talk, and if you didn’t get it, so are you.
As 2nd-View as I am, I’d like to go beyond side-taking to offer a third view, which is basically:
What the f%ck are you guys talking about?
View #1 loves what Carrey is saying, and view #2 hates it. But they’re in total agreement on one thing: they assume that Carrey believes in what he is saying. They’re both imagining an essential, truth-telling Carrey — one who totally has or totally hasn’t seen the light.
Jim Carrey is an actor, people. Someone specifically trained to provide audiences with transformative/cathartic experiences, often featuring transcendence or madness. Experiences derived from scripts.
We pay Carrey a lot of money to be able to flip into a “zone”, an altered state. Or, more to the point: to appear as though he’s flipping.
Whatever Jim Carrey thinks about or has experienced – he’s communicating it through his stage chops and his lifelong talent for being looked at and mirroring directors’ demands and audience needs.
He’s doing it through a lifetime of reading scripts.
Those who hold View #1 might believe this puts him in the perfect position to have an epiphany about the nature of scripts, roles, and façades. Does it? Does starring in the Truman Show give you the inside track on becoming the True Man, the one who achieves authenticity?
Maybe. It sounds good.
But to be sure about it, you’d have have some way of discerning whether or not he wasn’t just reading from a new script, dreamt by medievals, and popularized by Tolle.
You can’t know if Carrey is acting or not.
This is further complicated by the fact that good actors know that when they’re really in a flow, it doesn’t feel like they’re acting at all.
Same goes for the audience. An absorbed audience member forgets they are at a play. They are simply alive.
Let’s imagine a Turing Test: not for artificial intelligence, but for spiritual awakening:
If you ask an actor whether he’s spiritually awake or not, and his answer leaves you convinced that he is, what’s the meaning of being awake?
On one hand, Jim Carrey could be an excellent mouthpiece for the awakening magic of non-dual philosophy. He’s visible and expressive. His svelteness and rubberfacing intersects nicely with yogic flexibility. The risks he’s taking in speaking his truth seem to lend him credibility.
On the other hand, if he’s just playing another role, reading another script, well, that’s just painful and demoralizing to good non-dualists everywhere.
That red carpet speech? It borrowed line from a commencement address he gave at Maharshi University of Management three years ago.
“But I can tell he’s seen the Truth,” you might hear a View #1 person say.
“I can see it in his gaze. His radiance. His presence, his obvious equanimous joy.
“Look: he’s feeding birds out of his mouth:”
It makes me think of my late friend Michael Stone.
In his elegy, Michael’s brother Jayme notes: “It was stunning and sad to see some of his closest relatives find out about his illness for the first time as they stood over him in a coma, tears pouring down their faces.”
I’m not saying my dear friend was an actor, and I’m not comparing his bipolar disorder to Carrey’s or suggesting Carrey is in some kind of unseen danger. I’m not comparing Carrey’s red carpet philosophizing to Michael’s intense industry and love for Japanese Zen. And I’m definitely not comparing the impacts of their content. Michael was working against the privilege-blindness I refer to below.
I’m saying that both were/are interacting with spiritual scripts, and that despite this — perhaps even because of it — vast majority of those who came/come across either had/have literally zero insight into their internal lives.
It’s terribly lonely.
And ironic. For a spiritual adept is most often valued based on presumptions made about his internal life. What are those presumptions built upon, beyond the optics they produce and by which they are produced?
Perfect posture, seductive eye contact, dissociative eye gazing, apparently excellent physical health, a lush beard, a beautiful voice and pithy quotes do not communicate anything stable about a person’s internal state.
However, thinking they do is a prime example of where spirituality can become inseparable from the theatre of spirituality.
Let’s take a simple example:
Many remarked that Carrey’s quizzical-beneficent gaze at Kimmel’s audience (see the lede image, above) is a clear sign of his changed state.
Lay aside the fact that the all-knowing gaze is a standard somatic mesmerizing device, employed by Tolle, Katie, Adyashanti, and my personal fave, John de Ruiter, who I will attempt to imprison here forever in this GIF:
Try this thought experiment: how would Carrey’s “awakened state” read over the radio? How would it read on television if he suffered a stroke that caused facial paralysis?
How would Michael’s TED talk go over if it was delivered by someone not-white, or who didn’t look like a super-model, or someone with a speech impediment?
The theatre of spirituality is visually intensive, culturally constructed, gendered by the male gaze, and has strongly ableist undertones. It is amplified and confounded by celebrity.
Through a reality television president, the entire world is now at the mercy of a theatre of power. It would be nice if folks in the spirituality biz figured out how to interrogate rather than double down on this phenomenon.
Especially the gendered part. I can’t imagine a single non-cis-gendered male celebrity who would do what Carrey did to Saddler.
I can totally imagine people seizing the limelight for legitimate agitprop. I can see Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot punk-screaming the Internationale, or Marina Ambramovic morphing the red carpet by dumping out a bladder of ox blood.
Neither would be saying This is meaningless and I’m above it all. That’s what privilege says.
Starting to look at the theatre of spirituality might give us some actual spirituality — the kind that asks us to look at what we want from people.
What do people want from Carrey? On the level of content, his non-dualism gives a trans-rational thrill, but also a hidden moral dispensation:
“I’m not who I thought I was. I’m not even here as an individual. I am the universe, pretending to be an individual. And yet, here I am, still smiling, still an apparent individual, in the apparent form you once knew me in.”
Who is saying this? A white man worth $150M.
Which part of the wealthy white man is not who he thought he was? The richness, the whiteness, the maleness? All of them together? Are these the parts that became the universe, dancing with itself?
It’s on the level of somatics, however, that Carrey’s performace promises a more intimate, gendered pleasure:
He can seem eccentric, antisocial, secretive, seductive, responsible to no-one and nothing.
He can seem alone and even cruel, yet still adored.
It’s a performance that offers toxic masculinity in the form of spiritual comedy.
Not sure how to sign off, except with a performance that didn’t do any of the above. No wonder it was so hard for Carrey to imitate Andy.