We read a fascinating account of the Roman Polanski legal issue last night in the New Yorker. In short, the case is far more complex--and much more interesting!--than one would assume from media reports. But while the entire article is worth reading, the most pertinent pieces to us were the following quotes--the first from Jeff Berg, Polanski's longtime agent, and the second from Peter Gethers, who edited Polanski's autobiography and wrote two screenplays with him.
(For context--Polanski's pregnant mother was gassed at Auschwitz when he was three years old, while he and his father survived. His first wife, Sharon Tate, was famously murdered along with three friends by the Manson "family." Basically he has had more than his share of hardship.)
Berg--"He has a world view which has been informed by terrible events, unspeakable events, that have never soured him as a person. There is no bitterness, no anger, though there is memory."
Gethers--"Roman is not defeated by anything. He doesn't regret the things that happen to him, because he understands that things just happen. He is neither in denial not apologetic about his life. He wouldn't use the word, but it's a very existential approach to life." (Emphasis added.)
The article goes on to say that "Polanski's early life seems to have instilled in him a voraciousness for experience--intellectual, physical, sexual," and to describe his exploits in Gstaad (Switzerland), which he discovered to be (in his words) "the finishing school capital of the world, [with] hundreds of fresh-faced, nubile young girls of all nationalities."
We found this story particularly interesting in light of the discussion we have recently been having regarding Tiger Woods, who has in many ways led a very similar life to Polanski (e.g., seeking extreme experiences, including the company of multiple young women), but seems to be the antithesis of absurd. So what makes them different?
The answer, it seems to us, is that Polanski is living for today, not tomorrow...and certainly not yesterday. "Things just happen." What a wonderful way to describe the absurd. Things happen, and then we move on to something new. Polanski, in contrast to Woods, seems remarkably unconcerned with his reputation, or leaving a legacy, or being "the best" at something. He appears content to live his life to the fullest, seeking experiences not for some ultimate purpose or personal validation, but simply for the experiences themselves.
So, in the spirit of the holidays, we raise a glass to you, Roman Polanski--absurd man!