‘The Lollipop Sun’ by Mayank Chhaya (In this case an empty chair)
My mother is almost as old as Clint Eastwood but I do not recall having seen her ranting at an empty chair. I suppose it is a matter of personal tastes. Next time when I speak to her I am going to ask her to give it a shot. I am pretty certain there are many empty chairs in India.
We now know that Eastwood has pioneered a whole new method of psychotherapy where an empty couch itself is your psychologist. It is a potentially huge breakthrough in mental healthcare costs. The idea that one can talk to an empty couch and relieve one’s angst is more revolutionary than what you might realize. “Talk it out with an empty chair,” could become a serious medical prescription.
As an improvised stand-up routine Eastwood’s 12-minute performance at the Republican National Convention (RNC)in Tampa, Florida on August 30, was all over the place. I am not sure if Eastwood was going for something avant-garde. He could not have been because he was after all at the RNC. The best evidence that he was not going for something avant-garde came in probably the best line of the routine when he said, deliberately haltingly, “What do you want me to tell Romney? I can’t tell him to do that. I can’t tell him to do that to himself.” The "do that to himself” was obviously meant to say “go fuck himself.”
When Eastwood walked in with his hair somewhat unkempt people should have suspected that he was going for something outside the norm. But that could have been in keeping with his famous windblown hairdo. The barstool like chair was also a strong giveaway. One can be forgiven for thinking that at 82 ten to twelve minutes might be a bit too long to stand for many. But remember it was Eastwood, who in that timespan could have made an entire feature film. He is that efficient. So the chair could not have been there for him to sit on. At the very least someone at the RNC should have known that it was going to be a prop-based routine.
Once you get past the small-mindedness of Eastwood’s routine, it was the lack of cogency that was troublesome. For instance, you couldn’t tell why he was chiding an invisible President Barack Obama about the Afghanistan war, something he did not start but inherited and is trying to conclude. Perhaps Eastwood was referring to the fact that as a senator Obama voted for most war-funding and troop-funding bills.
Here is what Eastwood said, “I know you were against the war in Iraq, and that’s okay. But you thought the war in Afghanistan was OK.
You know, I mean — you thought that was something worth doing. We didn’t check with the Russians to see how did it — they did there for 10 years.”
I am not quite sure what this is supposed to mean. When he speaks about checking with the Russians, is he saying that the US should not have invaded Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9/11 or should have learned from the Russian debacle?
On balance Eastwood’s speech, if you want to call it that, was rather baffling. There is of course the much-cherished place for unvarnishedspeak (not a word but coined here) in a democracy but that works only if it has intrinsic substance to it. One could not say with any degree of certainty whether Eastwoodspeak ( not a word but coined here) had any in it.
It would be be uncharitable to attribute Eastwood’s routine to his advancing years because if there was anything clear about it, it was that he knew exactly what he was doing. Being who he is he could have well said, “Go ahead, bake my cake” and brought the house down with applause.