Richard Beymer is somewhat famous for acting in certain films, most notably West Side Story opposite Natalie Wood, and the role of Ben Horne on David Lynch’s TV series Twin Peaks. For the past number of years Mr. Beymer has been living and making experimental and documentary films in Iowa, the Lower East Side and India.
Richard’s new book is called Impostor. He writes…
Let me say at the outset that this is NOT a book written by an advaitic master, enlightened guru or self-proclaimed teacher, of which there are many, trying to jar “us sleepy ones” out of our somnambulistic stupor…it espouses no knowledge or technique nor does it give any advice on how to make your life any other way than it already is. It is simply a work of fiction that hopefully people who are interested in advaitic concepts along with Hollywood movies will enjoy in this topsy-turvy mad-cap search for, “Who am I when not being who I think I am?” which is what this book is about.
It’s an unauthorized autobiography of someone who is stumbling along the path, rummaging up and down the alleys of his mind, and others, searching for clues as to who he is (or isn’t), figuring everybody else gets “IT” but him. It’s about George, someone who is addicted to the bliss of ignorance, someone who has lived his whole life acting as if he were who he appeared to be-an impostor, an ego encapsulated bag of bones and flesh suspended between the belief of birth on the one end, and the fear of death on the other, and who, in limbo, betwixt and between, has managed to eke out this momentary existence, it having (as George finds out) at its core, no more reality than a dream.
FADE UP: INTERIOR. HOLLYWOOD SOUNDSTAGE. A LARGE WHITE SPACE. CLOSE ON SPACEMAN GEORGE. He’s suited in his silver spacesuit looking as deranged as ever, a physical and mental wreck.
THE DIRECTOR: (screaming from off camera) “Roll ’em!” Now for God sakes, try to get it right this time, George. Action!
The only object in the scene with Spaceman George is a full-length mirror on rollers. Spaceman George takes a deep breath and deftly, in the tradition of the great Hollywood musicals, leads his reflection throughout the space as a combination visual aid and dance partner as he rambles and rants his way through his self-obsessed monologue.
SPACEMAN GEORGE: All right, here’s my dilemma. See if you can relate. On the one hand (referring to his reflection), there’s not remembering who I am when being who I appear to be. On the other hand (referring to himself), there’s who I appear to be when being who I think I am. That is, this me, here . . . the one in question.
Spaceman George spins the mirror around and cozies up to his reflection. He continues:
SPACEMAN GEORGE: Let me be more precise. I’ve forgotten who I am when not being who I think I am. That’s it in a nutshell, the one-liner. That’s what this whole film is about, so be warned.
Now I don’t know about you but I assumed I’d live forever, that somehow or other I’d get out of this life alive, that I’d figure it out, slip by unnoticed-maybe through some tear in the cosmic fiber-and I would just step out into eternal life, God-like, you know, in my white tie, top hat and tails . . . maybe doing a little soft shoe routine in my shiny black patent leather shoes . . . kind of free and easy like Fred Astaire in one of those 1930’s MGM musicals, like Flying Down to Rio with Ginger Rogers . . . you know, boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back again-ta da,- happy ending. But that was another film. Instead, I was destined to relive the end of West Side Story, where I died tragically, too soon, having almost-but not quite-figured it out, about remembering who I am when not being who I appear to be.
I was so close I could taste it. The clues were everywhere. It was only left for me to reconstruct the puzzle, connect the dots . . . but NO . . . I had to die. What a shocker to wake up dead. I mean you have no idea. It’s like nothing else ever. All I knew was, this life, this precious moment of eternity was over too soon . . . far, far too soon. There were all those things I never did, never said, the wasted moments, the years. I was just beginning to get the hang of it, the feel of it, the shame of it, the blame of it, the rage, the guilt part . . . the “I’m sorry, Marie, forgive me, I messed up” part . . . the part where you and me and everything is perfect just the way it is, with no deletions, additions, corrections, expectations, or otherwise tampered-with parts . . . the unconditional love part . . . the part where I don’t demand in you what’s lacking in myself part. The part where I accept who you are when not who you appear to be, rather than trying to change you into who you aren’t, so I can forget who I am when not being who I appear to be in your eyes.
Well, it’s all over now, baby blues. I jigged when I should have jagged, zigged when I should have zagged. I hesitated. And as you reminded me time and time again, “He who hesitates is lost.” There was so much left unfinished, the whole last act . . . was he really insane or just play-acting? Did she really fool him into thinking she loved him or did he know all along she didn’t? Or was he just pretending he believed her to see if he could detect a lie in her performance? Or did she set the whole thing up and just let him believe it was his idea to prove she was who she appeared to be, when she was really someone else? Now I’d never know.
Picture it yourself . . . if you were to die, no warning, like right now, just keel over and die, not knowing who you are when not being who you appear to be-that is, this part you’re playing-and don’t kid yourself, you there . . . you are playing a part-what would be left? There would be nothing, that’s how I see it. Zilch. Nada. But, if you were to die being who you are when not being who you appear to be, then dying wouldn’t be death, as in annihilation, the total eradication of being, but rather, could conceivably be just a change of scene, like in the movies. In fact, from the die-ee’s point of view, nothing would be any different . . . Oh, maybe a little bump in the road, a little What the hell was that?, but no difference, not really. Right? I mean, you’d just be whoever you are when not being who you think you are- simple.
Now, to an outside observer in a fixed matrix, of course, you would appear dead, gone, outta here . . . but for the die-ee, the one in question, it would just be a blip on the radar screen . . . a simple dream shift . . . no biggie. But, and this is the heart of the matter . . . I’m lost in the play, consumed by my part, obsessed with my image. (In a sudden rage Spaceman George breaks the mirror.) I really believe the lie, that I am this “I,” that I am who I appear to be. I’ve forgotten something, something key, something vital to the whole outcome. I’m sure of it. And whatever it is (screaming in the camera) IT’S DRIVING ME CRAZY!
Impostor: Or Whatever Happened to Richard Beymer, by Richard Beymer
Review of Impostor:
Impostor is a confession of the author’s true nature. The form of the confession is a screenplay that unfolds as do one’s thoughts or dreams. Using videos and films and a fun house full of characters, layers of thought and experience slip into other layers, drop, blend, recycle, always washed by a witnessing of it all.
The author’s true nature becomes known through a process of facing his nature as an impostor in life. Throughout this book, just as we get a feel that the main character has awakened to his true nature, we find that it is only another video, another false self, another impostor. There is a constant pushing forth into new layers of awareness without any real breaking through the mode of impostor until the very end.
By immersing oneself in the flow of this book, one may see how difficult it is to break out of impostor mode. At least we can be aware that we are in it! Then through a process of playing all the videos of our so-called life, and the videos within them, and videos within them, and the videos and films created to explain them, we can finally come to a true knowledge of what this existence is all about. Impostor is a wild, funny, tumultuous tour of an amusement park fun house. The amusement park is the world, the fun house is your life, and there is a way out.
Review written by Jerry Katz