When interviewed, Andy Warhol could appear aloof and arrogant. He famously preferred to give one word answers – usually “Yes” and “No” – or even just to nod or shake his head. He preferred even more not to give interviews at all.

When famous personalities behave like this it can seem that they consider themselves superior. It can make people dislike them.

In The Philosophy of Andy Warhol there’s a lot that seems sincere, amid all the jokes and absurdity that make the book so great. One thing Warhol says that I believe is how nervous he would get about TV interviews. I’ve never had my 15 minutes of TV fame but, from the small experience I have had of public speaking and performing, I can relate to what he describes: the constant silent mantra he repeats over and over “I’m going to faint. I’m going to faint. I know I’m going to faint. Have I fainted yet? I’m going to faint.”

Some people say it’s a good sign if you’re nervous. It means you care about what you’re doing. But it can make things really difficult too.

Warhol always said he wanted a TV show, and perhaps one of the less serious reasons he gives for not wanting to talk on TV is that he’s so jealous of the host for having a TV show that he can’t speak for the seething envy. Even if he’s just joking, I think we can see a human side to Warhol here: his lack of cooperation comes not from a sense of superiority but from inferiority. He doesn’t have a TV show of his own so he sees himself as a failure in this respect.

Andy Warhol says he likes “Talkers”. He admires them because they are creating something: all this talk. So rather than thinking of him sitting aloof there, we should imagine him enjoying the conversation around him, admiring the Talkers who, again, are managing to do something he’s incapable of.

By all accounts, Warhol could really talk when we was off the television. But talking on TV was something he just couldn’t do.

Somewhere – I can’t remember if it’s in this book or not – Warhol says he likes people who talk because it means he doesn’t have to. Again I can relate: who likes to carry the conversation?

Far from seeming alien or superior, Andy Warhol’s silence on TV now seems more like common sense to me.

(Image is from Pixabay.)

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2 Responses to Silence

  1. Therese says:

    I can relate. I’m better at listening, and I enjoy listening to people who actually have something to say. I’m not articulate and admire people who are!

    Liked by 1 person

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