May 8, 2017

Brad Pitt: Turning Point of the Puer

On the surface, Brad Pitt's GQ Style interview and photo spread looks like the "high-water mark of excruciating celebrity magazine interviews."

Look below the surface and you will see a psychological turning point. All such crises are awkward and embarrassing for the people going through them, not just the witnesses, but the poor bastard who thinks his life is unraveling in front of his eyes and without any control.

When the crises is played out in front of millions of adoring fans, it must be like a public flailing. All of the pain and suffering of Brad Pitt is there, for everyone to see in the GQ interview. I wrote a piece about the problems of fame, especially as it pertains to Brad Pitt.

Brad Pitt - and a lot of beautiful Hollywood actors - represent the very essence of the Puer Aeternus, the man who continues to live as an adolescent. It is telling that Pitt says that not a day has gone by without booze or a spiff. This is one of the ways the puer maintains his floating above the ground lifestyle. Alpine sports, which I explore extensively in my novel Powder Dreams, is another popular one. Hollywood certainly makes it easier for the pampered star to ignore the base elements of the grounded man, although Ty Burr in Gods Like Us brilliantly illustrates that this might be disappearing.

In middle age one of two things happens to the puer. Either they die or they abandon the lifestyle. Jung said to Marie Louise von Franz that the only way for the puer to escape the clutches of the archetype is through work. Pitt goes on at some length about how he works every day with his hands and how making film takes up less of his time.

The entire Brad Pitt interview is reminder of what the Ancient Greeks knew: Suffering is knowledge. And suffering publicly could drive a sane man to seek comfort in old habits.