On the possibility that happiness is unjust
June one day finds Chloe in AA. She is outraged. This is dishonest in the utmost. Chloe is an unrepentant alcoholic. She goes there to tell drinking stories to people who appreciate them & to take the booze from lapsed alcoholics. June does not even think that this achieves desirable ends at no cost – alcohol reminds her of the requirements of conscience.
June insists even that alcoholics are innocent – somehow victims of Chloe’s deceptions. They like the stories, the stories are true. This is Chloe’s way of suggesting that the best really compete only among the best, because only they know what they’re doing. But June detects a principle there, so she has to stand for it. Chloe suggests, alcoholics are not innocent. June’s compassion implies alcoholics suffer from a disease which can be cured, or at least palliated – less by science than by religion, presumably. Perhaps June’s problem is Chloe’s impiety – she makes love to the bottle, let’s say.
Chloe soon does her own soul-searching, when it is pointed out to her she has begun to repeat her stories. She decides wisely to attempt new reckless adventures, to have more stories to tell. She knows that the key to pretense is authenticity. So now she goes in search of some last bastion of goodness & order which to bring down under the blows of her vengeful beauty.
June, a great believer in the goodness of order, experiences the problems of normal life. Mark, who has been desperately helpful & trustworthy, finally confesses, he likes her a lot. Then, with rarely deft recourse to jealousy, he persuades her, she likes him back. Then they have sex. Their incompetence is too much even for morality. This fails to teach them anything about the problem with what they are imagining to be the way to happiness. They resolve to remain good friends, helping to compound each other’s hopeless hopes in the future, presumably…
James decides he should pretend to be deep so that Scorsese will love him for a movie. James is not a deep person; he is all about superficiality, than which nothing is easier to underestimate. He understands the depth of superficiality: He is at heart an imitator. He ends up in AA trying to find people with suffering, to learn from them – which was an adventure for the Buddha – & paparazzi popularize his image as a conflicted secret drunkard, which is enough to give him depth.
James showcases two things about mankind. First, men cannot laugh at something at which they do not look down – secondly, people want attention to be paid to their suffering, as if it dignified them. He is successful among people skeptical about success.