…I added the following short O’Toole thing during the week of O’Toole’s death [b. 1932, … died DEC 14, 2013]. He was 81.
Clips below… best I think is on the occasion of the publication of his first memoir, Loitering With Intent, in 1997.
On the occasion of publishing Loitering With Intent, O’Toole talked to Charlie Rose –probably the best interviewer in history, or at least best-informed, with the most probing questions– about being Irish.
The Irish identity question comes at about 2:50 in the video clip, in a fifteen minute edited interview.
Rose: ‘ What does it mean to you to be Irish?’
Peter: ‘It’s almost the center of my being.
I can understand and reflect and indeed everything I think Of is colored by its history by its literature by it’s people by its geography. When the war ended I went to Kerry in 1946 –and I had not been to Ireland since I was a young child. Hadn’t seen it since before 1939 –and they were strange years, from age 7 to 13, you can imagine. And I was a bit of a misfit , the odd man out. But I went to into county Kerry, with my friend father Leo Walsh. And suddenly it all clicked. I wasn’t different at all. It was the other ones –they were very strange.’
Rest in Peace, me boy. Or… keep working! They’re gonna love you up there.
Original blog post below.
“The Irish are the only people completely impervious to psychoanalysis.” – Sigmund Freud
Colin, the Matt Damon character, quoted this great line to his police psychiatrist girlfriend in 2008’s multiple-Oscar-winning Scorsese breakthrough The Departed. Though skillful screenwriter William Monahan adapted the movie’s basic plotline from a 2002 Hong Kong police/mob picture, he and Scorsese –and presumably the actors– found a hundred insanely great ways to make this a quintessentially Irish-American story: working class heroes, a touch of dark humor (Nicholson’s brilliant contribution), and plenty of excess: booze and broads and violence and melting-pot politics and scared little boys hiding behind macho-man masks.
But that line–that one great, awful, personally resonant quote from Freud — that’s what did it for me . Because it made me look at myself. It made me think of my family (I’m 25% Irish). It helped me remember and somewhat even forgive my father for some of his own impervious tendencies.
In my more megalomaniacal moments, I picture myself claiming my place somewhere among the all-time-great Irish charmer/brawlers in the arts: guys like James Joyce, Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde and all those glorious, moody rabble-rousers of old. Actors like Spencer Tracy and John Wayne. Edgy directors like John Huston, John Ford, Jim Sheridan and Danny Boyle. Current stand-up comedy specialists like King of The Rant Denis Leary and the dangerously confessional Christopher Titus. The back-when Irish roots of Lennon & McCartney. The “dig deep” spirit of Van Morrison, the U2 boys, the Pogues –heck, even that ballsy Irish broad Sinead O’Connor ! From younger generations: some of their Irish-American counterparts like Billy Corgan and Ryan Adams. And, for what it’s worth, I really do identify with whatever is Irish and screwed-up and sometimes beautiful way down in Mel Gibson’s heart of hearts. (I didn’t actually verify Mel’s Celtic roots, but he fits the type in a dozen different ways, from the drinking to the complicated religious identity to the raging, crying, larger-than-life creative force that seems to compel him.)
I recently discovered a Scottish folk singer named Dougie MacLean who exemplifies more of the soft side, the poetic soul, of this Celtic “warrior/poet” type. He wrote a song called Ready for the Storm, covered a number of years ago by one of my favorite Christian Contemporary singers, Rich Mullins. My favorite lines are as follows:
The distance it is no real friend
And time will take its time
And you will find that in the end
It brings you me
This lonely sailor
And when You take me by the hand
You love me, Lord, You love me
And I should have realized
I had no reasons to be frightened
So now I wait for “time to take its time”. I mark time in this paradise/prison of middle-class suburban American life. I laugh, I cry, I drink, I blog, I write, I teach, I rant and pray. And I try not to be frightened. Because, as Denis Leary wisely observed about his own success in a recent Rolling Stone interview,
“It’s hard to look back without thinking that there was some kind of Grand Plan in place.”
Hey, I’ll drink to that!