Q. Where would you like to be?
A. In a place of greater confidence.
Q. In what areas do you lack confidence?
A. In many areas. But only one area is important to me at this time.
Q. What area is that?
A. It has to do with integrity, as we discussed last week. I lack confidence that I will be able to act according to my integrity, and not according to hypocrisy.
Q. Why should you ever prefer hypocrisy over integrity?
A. I don’t, in my heart. But at certain moments, I find myself choosing a hypocritical course of action, only because I lack confidence that I can find a way to act according to my integrity at that same moment.
Q. Can you provide an example of that?
A. Sure. Say I’m at an idle moment. I’m bored at that moment, and I don’t quite know what to do. I see before me a certain door. I am compelled to open the door, because on the other side will be people who will alleviate my boredom. But the only way that these people have ever been known to alleviate my boredom is that they provide me with an audience for the Entertainer in me. I will proceed to entertain them. They will laugh when I say funny things, and do comic imitations of people, and put on humorous expressions and mannerisms. And then, I will be gratified.
Q. Who are these people?
A. That’s a good question. They could be just about anybody, I suppose. In this case, they were a number of people I saw sitting behind the back door of the Recovery Center where I have been volunteering, that back door being made of glass.
Q. Did you then go inside and entertain them, in order to alleviate your boredom?
A. No, I did not. I turned and went next door, to a cafe where it was quiet, and I would find a way to alleviate my boredom, without having to entertain anyone.
Q. How did you manage that?
A. By doing what I am doing right now. I am sitting down at a quiet table in a quiet cafe, among many quiet students studying, and professors preparing their lectures. To entertain these people would be to interrupt their work, which would be quite rude. So instead I logged on my laptop to do my own work, and therefore blend perfectly into the atmosphere.
Q. But aren’t you still being an Entertainer?
A. How so?
Q. You’re entertaining me, aren’t you?
A. It’s not my intention.
Q. What about your readers? Aren’t they being entertained?
A. I hope not!
Q. And aren’t you still a hypocrite?
Q. But what you’re doing right now – sitting in this academic cafe the way you are — isn’t this just as hypocritical as ever?
A. I think not! I’m not hypocritical at all right now.
Q. You’re not?
A. No I’m not! I mean – what makes you think I am?
Q. Well, you’re not a student are you?
A. No – not in the strictest academic sense, as in pay tuition, take classes, and all that.
Q. And you’re not a professor, are you?
A. I am neither student nor professor, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have work to do on my laptop.
Q. But by trying to blend in with all the academics. aren’t you trying to pretend to be one of them?
A. I see your point, but no I’m not. Plenty of people come in here to work on their laptops who are not students or professors.
Q. But still, you’re trying to look like a student or a professor — and isn’t this hypocrisy?
A. I don’t believe so, no. Even if I’m not an official student, I sort of feel like one. I’m always studying, doing research of various sorts. Especially, I research classism, and inequality, and poverty culture, and homelessness. This is who I am right now; it’s not hypocrisy.
Q. But haven’ you been an entertainer for most of your life? How is it hypocritical to keep being who you are?
A. Because I don’t think the Entertainer is the real me. The real me actually is more of scholar than an entertainer. Besides, a spiritual scholar is one who is seeking the truth. That describes me to a tee. But an entertainer? An entertainer tries to take people’s minds off of their troubles. In a way, the Entertainer keeps people from looking for the truth.
Q. But haven’t been there entertainers who also were spiritual truth-seekers. What about Dick Gregory?
A. What about him?
Q. Wasn’t he a comedian?
A. That he was.
Q. And didn’t he going on numerous hunger strikes, frequently fasting for forty days and forty nights for the sake of social justice?
A. That he did. But he was different. His comedy was about social and racial inequality. Observe:
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I understand there are a good many Southerners in the room tonight. I know the South very well. I spent twenty years there one night.
Last time I was down South I walked into this restaurant and this white waitress came up to me and said, “We don’t serve colored people here.” I said, “That’s all right. I don’t eat colored people. Bring me a whole fried chicken.”
Then these three white boys came up to me and said, “Boy, we’re giving you fair warning. Anything you do to that chicken, we’re gonna do to you.” So I put down my knife and fork, I picked up that chicken and I kissed it. Then I said, “Line up, boys!”
Q. Well then why don’t you do like Gregory did?
A. What do you mean?
Q. Why not use your social activism in your comedy routine?
A. I sort of do that already. Among friends, that is. But what I’m trying to say is that, I am not a comedian at heart. I’m not an Entertainer at heart? I’m a spiritual man, and an Artist — a man of integrity, at heart. The Entertainer is just a facade. It’s just that I lack confidence I can ever shed that facade.
Q. Why bother?
A. What do you mean, why bother?
Q. Just what I said – why bother? Isn’t the Entertainer a part of who you are?
A. Maybe. This is all becoming very confusing. And a wee bit annoying, I might add.
Q. But aren’t I just asking logical questions, spinning off the things you’re saying?
A. I suppose you are, but it’s still kind of irritating.
Q. Should we adjourn till later?
A. Probably. I really do tire of this.
Q. Well, at least you’re not bored anymore, are you?
A. Get out of here!
The Questioner is silent.
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