How I learned to stop worrying and love the Master

Here’s the master talking to his protegee: “If you figure out a way to live without a master, any master, be sure to let the rest of us know, for you would be the first in the history of the world.”

Joachim Phoenix (the protegee) is ending a tempestuous bromance with Philip Seymore Hoffman (the master) and Hoffman’s character, based none too loosely on science fiction writer and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, is about to sing “Slow Boat to China” a capella.

And the Oscar for strangest homoerotic breakup scene goes to …

Driving back from “The Master,” I thought about all the ordinary men who promise streets paved with gold in exchange for spiritual servitude and it struck me that the protegee’s tears might have been less about parting than disillusionment. The old man behind the curtain, Willy Wonka seated at his drab little desk. Both of these and others, like the crooning demagogue, allegories for the people we rely on to make us feel loved and protected by something — anything! — outside ourselves.

How many of us ever realize that we can lead full, happy and authentic inner lives, by which I mean spiritual lives, without masters or intermediaries? Without any supervision at all?

Too damn few, if you ask me.

Pamela MitchellFound!

A reader named D. Campbell has solved the mystery of the other woman (Wednesday’s post). Regarding New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s African-American sign language interpreter, Mr. Mitchell wrote today, “The other ASL interpreter is Pamela O. Mitchell. Per Google, she is also a Broadway actress. I was impressed by her from the start.”

So was I, Mr. Mitchell. Now which of us gets to be president of her fan club?