Greatest gift

Lars Von Trier: “You may prefer to regard it like working with an actor …”

Jørgen Leth: “Where you push me to extremes … “

Lars Von Trier: “The greatest gift an actor can give you is to screw up. I want the same kind of gift as I get from an actor when he does a scene in a way he hates but which is great for me, because it came as if through the machine, that the actor is in that situation, and in which he has done the good stuff, too.”

– From The Five Obstructions

On friendship

“If you press me to tell why I loved him, I feel that this cannot be expressed, except by answering: Because it was he, because it was I” (Montaigne, 1965 p.139).

I’m in the middle of developing a performance project with Colin Poole. The materials we are working with seem to hover around ‘ways of relating’ (between us, between us and audience), and central to this thinking and doing has been a deep commitment to nourishing our friendship. Recently, Colin and I were discussing what kind of relationship a collaboration might be, and how it might differ from, say, a friendship. We wondered if we both understood (or agreed) as to what those words (friendship/collaboration) meant, and the degree to which our experience of them was shared. Colin and I haven’t known each other for very long – since 2007 – but I like hanging out with him, and I particularly like how much he challenges the way I think about the world.

Aristotle’s advice concerning friendship is to “host not many but host not none” (Vernon, 2005 p.4). This morning (coincidentally) I happened across (via @wechtie and @TonyParsonsUK) Bruce Springsteen’s eulogy of Clarence Clemons – it’s a moving, funny, evocative and frank tribute to friendship and love …

“But, standing together we were badass, on any given night, on our turf, some of the baddest asses on the planet. We were united, we were strong, we were righteous, we were unmovable, we were funny, we were corny as hell and as serious as death itself. And we were coming to your town to shake you and to wake you up. Together, we told an older, richer story about the possibilities of friendship that transcended those I’d written in my songs and in my music.” – Bruce Springsteen


Montaigne, M. (1965). The Complete Essays of Montaigne. Stanford, California, Stanford University Press.

Vernon, M. (2005). The Philosophy of Friendship. New York, Palgrave Macmillan.