that I have officially finished reading the 550 page Louise Brooks biography I started just under a year ago.
What a tormented soul she was.
One of my favorite quotes is an epitaph chosen for her by the book's author Barry Paris, taken from one of her favorite authors - Marcel Proust.
"Everything great in the world comes from neurotics. They alone have founded our religions and composed our masterpieces. Never will the world know all it owes to them nor all they have suffered to enrich us. We enjoy lovely music, beautiful paintings, a thousand intellectual delicacies, but we have no idea of their cost, to those who invented them, in sleepless nights, tears, spasmodic laughter, rashes, asthma, epilepsies, and the fear of death, which is worse than all the rest."
Indeed, Louise was one of these neurotics. She lived a boastful, fast, liberated existence, damning all that took advantage of her and only finding solace in the books on her shelf. She was undoubtedly lonely and overly self critical, thinking that she was a failure at most everything she attempted in life. But she contributed a great deal to the art of expression in her dancing, acting, and writing, candidly giving away her opinions and her soul to people who never expected nor deserved such passion or intellect from a uniquely beautiful young girl in mid-twentieth century social/hierarchical/financial (and the list continues) chaos. These qualities simply were not conveyed in women in film before her. More profound than her accomplishments in screen personality and conviction, however, was Louise's cultural challenge to strive for veracity in understanding one's past and meaning. She labeled eras of her life for what they were - good, bad, sweetly and sourly unforgettable, drunken, failed; periods of spiritual growth and periods of darkness. Regardless of the implications, Louise was (I believe) honest to a fault with her loved ones and herself, constantly searching for God and redemption. I only hope that I am neurotic enough to contribute as much of a masterpiece to the arts and to Truth as she bravely did, despite the cost and the sleepless nights.
Certainly she wasn't perfect...but at least she never pretended that she was.