In With or Without You, you focus heavily on your mother’s influence on your life. What important lessons have you learned from her?--Marshal Zeringue
I feel so lucky to have had a mother who could laugh so deeply. For her, and for us, comedy was a rich psycho-spiritual experience. As a genetic gift, I can’t think of anything more important to my survival. I see so many people in this world who live as though a storm cloud hovers overhead; I’ve never had that problem, because my mother armed me with this sublime sense of humor. Like athleticism, it is in part something you are born with, but also something that needs nurturing to develop. It’s the precondition for finding beauty–humor clears away the brush, tills an open space in the mind so that instances of beauty can be seeded and grow. For me it is so necessary in the process of making art and a happy life.
If you could go back in time and talk to your teenage self, what would you say?
This is hard. I’m tempted to beg her to get sober. Preserve those brain cells you are about to slaughter for next decade and a half! You’ll read Faulkner and for a moment touch the divine–you’ll “get” it, what he’s doing, how you can do it, too–then you’ll forget it all a second later. All of your best ideas–the human frailty of your friends and teachers, the searing connections between mind and body, the metaphors echoing everywhere as though in a universal song–will evaporate as soon as you have them. You won’t learn as much as you can! You won’t grow!
But then again, I needed...[read on]