The Devil Wants Your Soul

You may know the term Faustian Pact, which is based upon a German piece of literature where Faust a successful scholar chooses to exchange his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures. In the earlier versions his short-term gain is offset by his final demise as he is dragged into hell. I find the concept of the soul central to the creative process. It is a concept as clinically speaking it cannot be found, but it does seem to be central to a person’s peace and happiness. Many clearly would argue that the soul is in fact the psyche, the self. Which is also hard to place, though with modern scanning technology we are able to observe the brain firing off when a person is doing or feeling. So we have some material evidence of its existence. However the most intriguing thing about Faust’s bargain with Mephistopheles is that he had much to offer but Faust himself only had one thing of value to place on the bargain table, his soul.

A lot of actors obsessed with results. They want worldly pleasures, big careers, and sustained flow of work. These can be given, though clearly they are only offered to those who are capable of taking. But the one thing the industry can’t give you is a soul. Or to look at it more precisely a creative methodology. Because your creative methodology is much more than tools and technique, it is how you find a deeper and active relationship to your soul, unconscious, the self. It is this one tangible asset that you are given at birth, this genetic potential, the character you have as a human being, which can only be evolved through willing action. It is in fact the only thing that grows to the day you die. Your looks will wane, but your sense of meaning and purpose which gives inspiration to your endeavours and actions, comes from your soul.

The work of Lee Strasberg wasn’t as many initially thought some technical means to an automated psychological response. It was a much more complicated journey to the creative state of being. This is vindicated as in the 21st-century we truly appreciate the complexities of the unconscious. So in a culture where product is king, it is vital to consider that your greatest asset, the foundation of your creative success comes from something that cannot be given, it comes from something that grows, that is if you feed it. Hence the training and the journey you take as an actor in your craft, the purpose of your craft and technique is to deepen a relationship with writing, character, theme, and narrative, which are the sustenance and territory of your soul. Your ability to cry on cue is void if you have no sense for what the tears flowing for?! Emotions expressed have no value unless they reveal what is truly important.

So if you consider your training as an actor as the means to succeed rather than creating. If you yearn for the pleasures you see other supposedly enjoying. If you want worldly wisdom for personal gain, then you will have little to bring to the table. Even if you learn the process of wiser teachers’, you will be missing the point and purpose to their application. Training is not just the means but gives you meaning, or it only can if you’re looking for it. It is the character striving for purpose that you must match; it is your soul you must find if you can reveal theirs. Being human is a given that you can learn to utilise in your work and craft, caring about being human is the art.

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