BY TONY BOUZA
“That Tony Bouza, he sure is full of himself, isn’t he?”
Thus, did a wonderful old lady describe me to her companion as they left a talk I’d given.
“You enter a room, big, loud and aggressive and suck the air out.”
Thus, did a group of knowing executives describe me during an assessment session.
“He’s got a Messianic Complex.”
This was the evaluation of a management team sent to analyze my performance.
Vox Populi. Vox Dei.
“How did you two meet?”
This is the brilliant question a wag directed at Woody Allen and Soon Yi Previn at a fancy Manhattan party.
The gravamen of my thought is that such observations must lead to tortured introspection if wisdom is to have any hope.
I always felt the Police Federation’s jibes were a sovereign antidote to hubris.
The ego is an indefatigable monster, forever tempting us to inflate our self-image. In time I came to see mine as my greatest enemy.
Humility requires self-examination, skepticism to all flattery and clear sights.
We admire art because it contains truth—or a tortured search thereof. What is the artist attempting? To convince us of the worth of her discovery.
Quentin Tarantino is some wonderful artist. Created one of the best flicks ever—“Pulp Fiction.”
And yet, even Homer nodded.
I saw “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood.” Awful—and a lie to boot. Great performances but still a lie. No Sharon Tate murder. She gets only a delightful cameo in the flick. No analysis of the charismatic evil genius Charles Manson. Only riveting examples of the great thespian talents of DiCaprio and Pitt, in that order. Bravura performances.
Yet truth will out—and it must.
In “Inglourious Basterds,” Tarantino posits the absurdity of a mass annihilation of Nazis, including Hitler. A silly fable.
And yet—in that very same scene of apocalypse, Tarantino reveals the fascinating truth (I hope) that Emil Jannings, the great German actor (“Blue Angel,” etc.), was a devout Nazi. Geez, I didn’t know that.
And Woody Allen makes films I must see even as I abhor his surrender to lustful and impermissible appetites.
Think of the characters in fiction who, upon discovery of their moral blindness, gouge their eyes out.
Our lust, ambitions, greed and other dark impulses must be understood if they are to be confronted. In hubris lies blindness.
Life ain’t easy.
Wisdom is elusive.