A Mime is a Terrible Thing to Waste
THOMPSON: You studied mime.
THOMPSON: With some interesting people.
ARAGONES: Yes, Alexandro Jodorowsky. That was another very strange thing. When I was at the university, all my friends were studying architecture, but they did not end up in architecture. They became actors, directors. Architecture is a very beautiful career: it leads to many other things. It’s very creative, and very artistically oriented. We had a theater group. I was not in it, but my friends were all there, so I would go to rehearsals and wait for them to finish so we could go and have fan. I had to sit around there so often I would end up taking the place of other actors, just as a substitute because they hadn’t arrived, things like that. I figured if I was going to work for my friends while sitting in the audience, I’d better be part of the group. So I became an actor in the theatre group for architecture.
We did plays. We did The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder, The Beautiful People by Saroyan, and Mexican and Spanish plays. And while we were in the group, Marcel Marceau came into town. That was a total revelation. I had seen pantomime in movies, like Jean-Louis Barrault. But when we saw him live… We had student passes. I went every day. I couldn’t help it. And Alexandro Jodorowsky was with Marceau’s troupe. He had written pieces for Marceau. One of the most important pieces that Marceau does was written by Jodorowsky.
Jodorowsky’s an incredible talent. Besides comics and theatre and movies, he did Fando Y Lis, El Topo, and Holy Mountain. He’s a superb mime — a super technician with an incredible capacity for mime. So he stayed in Mexico and opened a school of pantomime. And I joined the group not to become a mime but to apply mime to cartooning. But eventually I got involved with the whole thing. When Jodorowsky was with Marceau he’d come out with a title card, “The Butterfly Catcher” or whatever the title was, and they would write it in the language of whatever country they were in. So we figured out, with my cartoons we could even go one step beyond. Without words, I would draw what was going to happen. So when we were doing the pantomimes, I would appear in my costume and I would draw what was going to happen. If it was a magician, I would draw a magician instead of writing “The Magician.”
So I applied cartooning to the theater; we did pieces, we did television pantomime, and it was a lot of fun. By then I was planning to leave to the States, so I left — I left the theater and everything.
THOMPSON: How useful was mime to your cartooning?
ARAGONES: Well, it allows you to know yourself from the inside out. See, many artists have to look at themselves in a mirror to understand facial expressions; but having done pantomime cartooning for so long, and knowing pantomime, allows me to understand the movement of the body without having to look at it in the mirror. You can feel it. And feeling action is very important, feeling balance. I think more than anything else, pantomime is balance, and having balance in your cartoons is very important. I don’t think it shows in a particular drawing: it applies to the overall work, that everything is balanced. That the expressions arc right, are proportionate, that the action, the exaggeration fits. When you’re doing a swordfight, you have the right elements — the pain, everything is there. The movements of everything — even waves, trees… places. When you know that, you automatically start drawing the curves — because I have played backdrops. When I was a mime, I was so big compared to the other guys, I was background. I have played artificial fires, I’ve been trees, I’ve been pieces of furniture. I was an armoire once. So even with inanimate objects, you can feel them. You can make jokes about feeling like a butterfly, feeling like a tree — well, I have done it. It is true. You can feel like a tree. You can feel like the leaves. You can feel it, so you can draw it. It becomes easier for you. It’s another skill that you acquire. I thought it was important for my personal growth, I did it, and I had a great time. I never intended to be a mime professionally. But I could do it [laughter] — if I was thinner.
But all those years with Jodorowsky in Mexico were a great learning experience. Even before doing that, he had been part of a group called the Groupe Panique in France which had a lot of very good writers; Arrabal, Topor, very important people like that. An intellectual group. He’s been very much part of that. So those years with people who think very much ahead of what’s happening, it helps you a lot. I think I profited a lot from being with Alexandro.
THOMPSON: You also worked as an actor.
ARAGONES: Yes, that was part of it. I don’t work as an actor because I like to act. It just happened that all my friends have become directors. Any time I was in a play or a movie, it was because the director was a friend of mine. “Oh, who will take this part? Sergio!” So they call me and say, “Hey, Sergio, do you want to come and play a general?” I say, “Sure.” Or George Schlatter — he needed a Mexican motel manager for a movie called Norman, Is That You? with Pearl Bailey and Redd Foxx, so he called me. So there I am in a movie as an actor. It is fun. It’s also part of the spirit — the theater, everything that you can do. Travelling is very important. Everything that you can feed to your brain, your activities through life. I believe that is better to live than to sit there. Not that you can use every activity and everything that you’ve done in your work, but it makes you grow as an individual. And you can apply it to your work. Every book you read. Every scene you see. Every day you go camping in the mountains. Every time you take a book about flowers, go to a field and find out the names of flowers and the names of the trees. Maybe you don’t ever have to use them, but it’s such a great feeling knowing that you know it! And this gives… more of a roundness to your life. You become more complete. I think acting is part of that. I wouldn’t do it as a profession. I grew up with it, my father being in the industry. So it never had that magic for me: “Oh, I want to be a famous actor.” I knew it was a hard-working career. You have to go to work very early. You have to rehearse. You have to learn your lines, and then you have to sit under the light for many hours. That’s what acting was to me, so I didn’t want to be in that career.
THOMPSON: While we’re on that topic, you served as a stunt double, too, right?
ARAGONES: Oh. [Laughter] That was a fluke. In the ’50s, my father was doing, with an American company, Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. I went on location with my father, and the stuntperson didn’t show up. They had to improvise. They wanted a dive from a rope into water and the lady [Irish McCalla] didn’t want to do it. And of course Sergio has been swimming all his life. I said, “I’ll do it.” Sergio’ll do it! So they put me in a woman’s bathing suit and a wig, and I took the rope and — aaaaaah! —jumped into the water, and that was the scene. One of the chapters in a serial. I never saw it, but I did it. I did a few Westerns, also, when my father was doing cowboy movies. Not because of the money, but because it was a lot of fun going through paper walls, faking fights, and dressing like a cowboy. I’ve always been an athletic person.
Money for Nothing
ARAGONES: A lot of people do things for money. They equate money with what you do — like a great cartoonist is the one who makes most money. Well, it doesn’t work like that. You go into something because you like it. A lot of kids come to me, they want to be cartoonists, and the first thing they ask me is, “How much money can I make with this?” Well, you know he’s not going to be a cartoonist. Because you have to spend many years not making any money. Actors, too. The people who make it do so because they don’t care for the money. They care for the career. For the craft of it. And they keep at it and keep at it until they have done so much that they become very good. All the very good actors have spent all their lives working in theater, learning, working — and suddenly they’re very famous and making millions. Good for them. They deserve it. They have done what has to be done. They have learned by doing it.
Cartoonists, too. You want to make money immediately, you’re out of luck. You have to work years and years and years. And a lot of people don’t want to wait those years. They say, “I’m going to make my own comic book. Right now.” I say, “But, you’re not good enough.” “I don’t care! I’m going to make it anyway.” And they go and they print their black-and-white comic immediately. And they’re not ready for it. Of course, issue #1 sells very well because it’s number ones. They think it’s because of the comic. No, it’s because there are a lot of kids who buy number one because they think they’re going to sell it for more money. If an issue #2 comes, they put a lot of money in it because they think they made it with issue #1, and they die.
THOMPSON: And of course you have a couple of well-publicized flukes that raise everyone’s expectations.
ARAGONES: Yeah. There’s flukes in everything. In movies, in comics, in everything. And that’s terrific. Why not?
Around the World
THOMPSON: You mentioned that you’ve traveled a lot.
ARAGONES: Yes, I have. Not so much any more because of Groo, but before, when I was doing cartoons for MAD, those you can mail in from anyplace. So I have spent a lot of time in Europe and traveling all over the world. Africa. Antarctica. I’ve done a lot of expeditions. With MAD alone, we take a trip every year, paid by Bill Gaines.
THOMPSON: Are those still going on?
ARAGONES: Yes. This year, we’re going to Germany again, and Switzerland. We’ve gone all over the world. And I have a dear friend, Dick Young; he produces documentaries. When he was starting in the ’60s, I went with him to a lot of places, doing documentaries with him. I went with him to the Himalayas, to Bhutan, to Africa, and to Morocco. We went to South Africa and we went to Antarctica. A lot of places. It’s been very interesting; I was learning first hand a lot of things that is almost impossible for a lot of people to do. So in that I’ve been also very fortunate. And now that I’m doing Groo, I can apply all those travels. It’s like I know the feeling of the places. The deserts, Africa, the mountains. Everything. The Buddhist temples in Bhutan — I’ve been there. I’ve seen the monks. I know how the atmosphere is. Sometimes I wish 1 knew how to draw, so I could really draw the places exactly as they are. It has helped a lot.
ARAGONES: Not any more. [Laughter] We’re becoming old, all of us. But we’ve done our share of drinking, making jokes, and playing tricks on each other. Embarrassing the town folk. But, yes, we have had very, very good times.
THOMPSON: What’s the most outrageous trick you’ve played on each other?
ARAGONES: Oh, very basic things. I remember one I did in Italy once. We were in Florence, and I was taking a picture of the whole group of MAD guys on the steps of a church. I was trying to include the church in the background of the picture, and as I was backing into a corner, I saw on the other street that they couldn’t see a group of people in a demonstration, with all kinds of signs and everything. I read Italian, so I saw that they were just shoemakers asking for a raise. I went over there and took one of the posters from one of the girls, hid behind it, kept walking, and when I was in front of them on the steps, I started shouting at them, “You filthy Americans! Go back home! Porco Americano! Arrrrr’.” And since the tourists couldn’t read the signs they didn’t know it was shoemakers demonstrating for higher salaries. They thought it was an anti-American demonstration. My friends knew me, so they were laughing their heads off, but I didn’t realize there were a couple of groups of tourists around who totally panicked when they saw this crazy “Italian” guy jumping at them waving his fist and shouting, and some of them started running all over the plaza. “Hey, wait a minute. It’s a joke!” [Laughter] There were Americans running all over Italy. We’ve done a lot of that type of stuff.
THOMPSON: Do you continue to follow the European comics scene?
ARAGONES: Oh, yeah. I get invited a lot to Europe to the comic book conventions.
THOMPSON: Are you published a lot in Europe?
ARAGONES: Well, Groo is published in German, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Spanish, and MAD is published in every language, and all my books are also published in all the languages. If I don’t get invited for Groo, I get invited for MAD. So I have made a lot of friends all through the world. When you’re a cartoonist — not so much a comic book artist, because that’s a career where people spend a lot of time sitting and drawing — but when you’re a cartoonist, you have a lot more freedom because usually you’re freelance, or you do one-panel cartoon, and you can travel a lot and get more exposure. And I found out that all the cartoonists, all over the world, know each other. You know about these guys because you’ve seen their cartoons, you’ve read their interviews in magazines, and you’re a fan. You could be a cartoonist and never read a cartoon, but the majority really like cartoons and really know the people who do cartoons.
I went to Brazil and called a cartoonist whose work I knew, Ziraldo. It was like meeting a lost brother, because he knew me. He knew about me from interviews. And I knew everything about him. We met, and it’s like you know the guy. You know that in school the teachers punished him because he wasn’t paying attention, you know what he likes, you know that as a kid he was an introvert — because we all come from the same mold. And suddenly you’re incredibly good friends, and you have met a family. It’s the same thing in any country.
It just happened to me again, from Malaysia. I was there and I saw this book about a cartoonist called Lat, where he talked about his experiences in life. And it was fantastic. So I bought all of his books, most in English, some in some Malayan. That was a few years ago. A few months ago, I got a letter from the United States Information Service that they had this cartoonist from Malaysia visiting, who would love to meet me. Of course, I was delighted that it turned out to be Lat. And when he came here, he was so surprised. I was waiting for him to autograph my books! He couldn’t believe it! He comes all the way from Malaysia and there’s tans here getting his autograph. He was going to get my autograph. And it was the same thing: we had the same tastes, the same things had happened. We became instant friends, instant brothers. And Malaysia — that’s as far away as you can get. So, yes, I do follow not only the European but the international comics scene.
In Praise of Craft and Care
THOMPSON: Whose work do you particularly admire?
ARAGONES: Well, I admire not a particular… Moebius, of course. He’s a genius in many respects, he has such talent. But I respect very much any well-crafted comic. I like when there’s professionalism behind it. And in Europe you find it a lot. They spend a lot of time on their work. I can tell you, something I detest is — no matter how good the art is, because not everybody’s fortunate to be very good. I was not good. I can see a drawing from a month ago and be very embarrassed by it. “Jesus, I can’t believe I did that!” But there are other people who, no matter how bad they are, there’s effort, there’s care. No matter how loose the work is. There’s a very big difference between looseness and sloppiness. And this is what I can’t stand. They misunderstand looseness to mean sloppiness. I don’t care if a comic is black-and-white or color, if an artist is a sloppy artist, and he gives me as an excuse, “Well, I don’t get paid enough.” that’s even sadder. That a guy is putting down the work he gets paid for, like he’s a mechanic. If you’re an artist, you’re an artist. If you get bad pay, well, that’s bad luck. But your art, you never compromise because of money. I have a total disregard for that kind of thing.
You see people like Francois Walthery [creator of Natacha], and Franquin [creator of Gaston Lagaffe, Gomer Goof in English], who put so much attention into their work. These people are dedicated to their work. The simpler style of Peyo [creator of The Smurfs] — wonderful. You don’t see a mistake there, in any form. So there are a lot of people in Europe that I really love. Not only humor, but the guy who draws the… What’s the name of the character, the little kid from the orphanage in Spain…?
THOMPSON: “Paracuellos” [written and drawn by Carlos Gimenez]?
ARAGONES: He’s fantastic. I met him also, and he’s a terrific artist. He did that thing about the guy on the mountains. A great book. I admire a lot of the Europeans.
THOMPSON: What about among the Americans? Whose work do you really follow there?
ARAGONES: Well, the classic cartoonists — who I think become classic not because of age, but because they have spent a lot of time doing it. I love Kubert’s work. You know that guy has been working since he was a kid and has developed a style. [Sam] Glanzman — ah! It’s a loose style, but he tells an adventure so well. He specializes in war comics. I love his work. He’s so realistic and at the same time loose. I think he’s a terrific artist. Spiegle, I love his work. Did you see the Blackhawk that he did? The one that Mark Evanier wrote?
ARAGONES: There’s so much research in that work. You can see it in the backgrounds. When the Tour Eiffel is there, it’s the Tour Eiffel. It’s not just a few shadows to pretend you are over there. There’s a lot of work involved. And the new kids, I like the new styles. They are very interesting. Sometimes I have mixed feelings about it, trying to use the comic medium for all types of experiments in art — it’s fine, but sometimes it get away from what the comic book medium is. Maybe I’m too old-fashioned about it, but it’s like animation with humor vs. very modern animation. Not all the cartoons should be big foxes with big eyes, you know, and it’s the same thing with comics. It’s hard for me to understand some of the new ones, but I do respect the talent. Sometimes I don’t understand them. It’s all right, it’s my English. I can always blame it on my English.
Why Super Heroes
ARAGONES: I sometimes believe that old characters should be left alone or killed because just to maintain them because of…
THOMPSON: I guess you’re not very sympathetic to the idea of having characters being taken over by successive generations and…
ARAGONES: No. A character like Superman I think has been done to death. And just to keep the comic and the movies alive, he has been made into such an unreal character in many respects. Being a super-hero, he can do whatever he wants. He can even make himself young again, just by going back in time and space. And Batman — trying to make him a super-hero takes away from the human who’s defending the poor.
C.C. Beck has a lot of very good points — that when comics were drawn in a little more fantastic way, when super-heroes were perfect, you could play with them a lot more. Take Superman: when he was drawn the old way, you know, very squat, he would take a building, pick it up by the corner, and lift it — and you believed it. It was logical. There was nothing wrong. Now, along comes a good artist and puts every muscle on a super-hero — he’s a good artist, he draws perfectly well, but he’s so realistic that when Superman picks up a building, you know that the corner’s going to come off and crumble into his hands. So now you can’t do it any more because visually, it doesn’t work. Batman, when he was drawn the way Kane did it, he was squat and he was cartoony. He would jump from a gigantic clock and with one punch knock out five people — and you believed it. But when the Batman is drawn realistically, suddenly, every time he throws a punch, he can only hit one person. So now you have totally eliminated that aspect. And you’ve got other types of problems because my God, who would believe a gigantic clock? Or a gigantic umbrella that opens and flies away with five people? When there’s fantasy in the drawing, it can be done. The Spirit will throw a little uppercut and knock a guy 10 feet away. If The Spirit was drawn realistically, in a less humorous way, it could never have been as popular as it was. So all this affects very much how you treat the comic. If you take a character through so many years, so many facets, you change him so much. I don’t know. When Groo ceases to be logical, I will stop. The first time that I want to send him to the future, that means I’ve run out of ideas [laughter}, and that’ll be the end of it. Prince Valiant in the future? Comics characters fit in a place, and once you run out of that particular place, then a character has ceased to exist.
THOMPSON: When you look at something as absurd as the new version of Captain Marvel that DC did — what is the point of drawing it “realistically”?
ARAGONES: Yeah, what’s the point? Well, for business. They have to maintain the merchandise. It’s like Mickey Mouse. Mickey Mouse has become just a representative of the business. When it was an adventure strip, it was terrific. Mickey would go with Goofy and his other friends hunting ghosts, starring in Westerns. There was a lot of action.
THOMPSON: Mickey Mouse was a great adventure series in its early days.
ARAGONES: Yes! And look what it’s become. It’s become Blondie and Dogwood. Donald Duck, too. Sure, you have to maintain it because you have to maintain this corporate image, this little mouse who created this incredible empire. But as a character from a strip, he ceased to function a long time ago, except as a master of ceremonies.
State of the Art
THOMPSON: Do you think comics are getting better or worse?
ARAGONES: Well, in general, they’re getting worse. A lot of them are getting better individually. But there’s so many of them now that the quantity has diminished the quality. It’s the same with the black-and-white thing. It started because a few people were so mad at what the color people were doing and they had something to say, like the undergrounds. They did their own comics. They didn’t have money, so it was black-and-white and small, limited editions. But along came all the people who were not good enough to be accepted by the big companies. They were not good enough to be accepted by the small companies, of which there are plenty, either. So they printed their own. That’s a comic; there it is. The cover’s in color — sometimes done by an artist friend or by a professional artist — and it looks exquisite. And a lot of people buy it. The comic book shop buys it because of the promotion and the beautiful cover that they run in the ad, and when they get it, there it is. It’s a very bad comic. I understand not so well drawn, but they are sloppy. They are quickly done. They are badly done. And that infuriates me. Some are very good, and some should be printed in color, but those are the ones that sell very well — everybody knows who they are — and they buy them and they will be there for a long time. And they deserve even better recognition.
But again we come back to the system of buying and selling comics which doesn’t allow quality to survive because we don’t know… Readers are not buying the comics. Collectors and people who deal in the business are buying the comics. A lot of people buy to collect and they usually know which ones are selling better and so the statistics are very false. You get a very false sense of what’s happening. It’s a very inbred, self-contained readership. The same people are reading the same comics. We are not bringing in new people. So, yeah, the quality is diminishing because so many independent comics have come out, because these people are doing their own comics now. Personally, I think they’re getting worse, generally.
THOMPSON: Entropy is the way of the universe.
ARAGONES: Well, as the quality of life diminishes, education diminishes. The less educated your are, the less you know what is good. It’s like McDonald’s. If when you were a kid you ate at McDonald’s, and you never ate better, you think McDonald’s is terrific. So — I like McDonald’s [laughter], but as an extra, you know. But when that’s the only thing you consider good, and you never had a chance to taste the best, then this is your perspective. Everything keeps diminishing. Same thing with comics. You have to maintain a certain perspective of what’s good and what’s bad, and when bad becomes the accepted norm, like in animation — a whole generation has grown up with very poor animation.
Another thing that’s happening is, the classic cartoonists started creating comics without reading comics. Because there were no comics. They were reading classics and books and coming from art schools, and they were drawing comics. But the new generation — the artists and the writers come from reading comics. So they have never read the classics, they have never studied under the classic illustrators, and they don’t know what good illustrations are. They are copying the people who copied the classics. So, as the new generation comes up, their idols are less qualified as artists. When they ask me for tips about cartooning… I look at them and they want to draw serious stuff, and I tell them to study anatomy, and they think I’m crazy. They want to draw these weird super-heroes that they’ve been admiring, but they don’t know that they are getting worse and worse and worse.
THOMPSON: That’s like a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox.
ARAGONES: Yes. It takes time, and they don’t want to spend the time learning. There’s a period of learning. It’s like wanting to be a surgeon and going, “I want to be a surgeon! Here! Let me operate on you!” Well, you need at least six years of medicine and then… It’s the same thing with cartooning. You need to study cartooning on your own. Not that you have to go to cartoonists school, but you have to sit there for hours. “But I have to make a living.” Fine! After you make a living, you sit there. That’s the way everybody I know who’s successful did it — not economically successful, but proud successful of their work. Because there’s a lot of comics that have become economically very successful but that doesn’t mean they’re also good. It’s two different things.
THOMPSON: As for deteriorating standards, the analogy that I always think of is that when you look at a Jack Kirby leg, he’d draw a squiggle. That’s because he knew what a leg looked like and a squiggle was his interpretation of a leg. And now you have 10 billion people who draw a Jack Kirby squiggle without having any idea what it’s supposed to be, and once it starts getting a little distorted it doesn’t mean anything at all.
ARAGONES: Well, it happened in the Dark Ages. The fine artists were all copying the sculptures done by masters, and as they keep copying the masters, the work increased, they needed more books, they needed more art, and so for a while we had very bad art — until the Renaissance came along. So it’s a normal process. Until the new artists start saying, “Wait a minute. I went to art school and I learned to draw.” This may also have to do with the facility that you have to publish your work in America. In Europe, if you are not good, you don’t publish. They’re very small countries, with very small circulations, and if you’re no good, you don’t publish. No way you can publish! So you have to be excellent before they even buy your work. You have to be almost a master before you get published, or even considered to be published. And that, as an assistant or doing backgrounds. But we have like 50 “countries” in these United States, size-wise and production-wise. Even if you’re very bad, there is such a need for product that as soon as you can make two squiggles, you go to a comic book convention and now you’re a professional.
Super-Heroes, Defeatism, and Pride
THOMPSON: And, of course, comic book companies at this point have a problem where anyone who is any good has by now found other venues than super-hero comics. They can go to other companies or create their own characters, so the standards on mainstream super-hero comics are declining even more precipitously.
ARAGONES: It seems like everybody’s fed up with super-heroes, but they’re still there. Is it because the collectors are buying them? I don’t know.
THOMPSON: Most of the people who write and draw them are really tired of them, but they claim they can’t afford not to do them.
ARAGONES: Also, it’s a direct result of the fact that television is a very major, important factor in this country. In the United States, television has how many channels? Hundreds of them. You can see detectives on every channel. There’s no point in having a detective comic book because it’s there, on TV. They walk, they shoot. People fall, blood splatters all over. But you can’t have superheroes on television because it costs a lot of money. I’m not talking Saturday morning. I’m talking about regular shows. So super-hero comics can still be an enormous field because it would be enormously expensive to do them on TV. In humor, you have so many situation comedies. And that’s probably why a lot of the comic strips have died, because you have all the situation comedy you need on television. But if you can do something in a comic book that television can’t do, you have a success… And then it becomes a Saturday morning show and there it goes! [Laughter] I don’t know. I think one of the reasons why there are no super-heroes in Europe is because there are so many other genres, and that’s because they don’t have television. You could talk for hours about why the super-heroes are…
THOMPSON: Well, super-heroes are so intrinsically American. European culture doesn’t really encourage the idea that you can solve a lot of things with your fists.
ARAGONES: Not just with your fists — that’s adventure. But super-heroes are based on the idea that divine intervention — a very strange intervention — is going to solve your problems. And it permeates the movies also. I’ve seen a lot of movies that people accept as good movies that are very negative. Like the one where the old people go to another planet. What was that thing called?
ARAGONES: Cocoon. Everybody thought, “Oh, what a great movie.” I said, “What is this? The solution is that to find eternal life you have to wait for Martians to come in?” It’s the super-hero syndrome, exactly. The one that just came out — Batteries Not Included — that every problem has to be solved by extraterrestrials. It’s out of your power to solve. It’s defeatism — you can do nothing about it. It’s like “I surrender.” The only way I can solve my problems is with a super-hero, or an astronaut, or somebody from outer space, or God helping me. And this is like throwing your gloves on the floor. When you have to fight, then you think you have a solution; but when you don’t want to fight any more, that’s when you go to total despair and then you go look for some super-heroes to solve your problems. Which is very bad. I don’t think those movies give any good messages. That the only love you find is with mermaids or with things from outer space. No! No! No! Reality is what can save you. And the more you see superior beings helping you, the less hope you are going to have to get yourself out of it. And the more you see economic success as the goal, the worse you’re going to get, because you’ll never get any satisfaction. Then, everything you do is crap to get money, because you think that is the goal. And the goal is not the money; the money is a direct result of it. The better you become at something, the higher you’ll get paid. So the only thing that works is: work very hard at what you do, do it well, and suddenly you’ll get remunerated. But wait until you’re good instead of just making the money out of something wrong.
THOMPSON: It’s sort of the Protestant work ethic stood on its head. It’s not the work that’s good, it’s the money you get from the work and that’s the measure of the worth.
ARAGONES: Yeah, but that’s not a real measure. Because if you want to make money, study money. Become a banker. Invest money. There’s nothing wrong with money. But I find more satisfaction when you’re doing something with your hands and it comes out right. What they pay you for it, it’s just a check to pay your rent. But what you do is there forever. And you’re going to look at it and look at it and say… “Eww! I could have done it better.” [Laughter] But I think pride in what you do is very important.