Jim Killeen: The Man Who Found Himself

The failed L.A. actor sought out other Jim Killeens after a Google epiphany.
The failed L.A. actor sought out other Jim Killeens after a Google epiphany. ( Courtesy Of Jim Killeen)

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By Monica Hesse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 13, 2007

Jim Killeen is a sexual swinger in Denver.

Jim Killeen is a retired cop in New York.

Jim Killeen is a parish priest in Cobh, Ireland.

Jim Killeen is a CEO in Melbourne, Australia.

And when Jim Killeen, failed Los Angeles actor, found all of them on Google, he decided to make a movie called "Google Me."

It began in August 2006 with a routine self-Google, the sort of ego-surfing that millions perform regularly to assess their status in the digital world.

The thing was, Killeen had begun to feel his status was zero. At 38 he was unmarried, no children. The movie stardom for which he'd left Detroit had never materialized; he'd eventually launched a business providing chair massages in poker halls for a dollar a minute. It was surprisingly lucrative but (perhaps not surprisingly) unfulfilling. His father had just passed away.

So on that night in August, as Killeen typed his name in the search bar, he was looking for ego-stroking, but he was also looking for something in his life to be reflected back to him -- something buried in those listings to tell him who he was. Instead, what popped up was a middle-aged sexual adventurer in Colorado seeking fun individuals. His name was Jim Killeen.

L.A.'s Killeen scrolled further. He found a traffic engineer in Scotland. A corporate VP in St. Louis. Dozens of men, all of whom had found their own ways of negotiating what it meant to be Jim Killeen. He clicked through the Google hits and felt surprising tenderness. "I wanted them to be doing well in life," he says. "I wanted them to succeed. They were members of a very special club."

Suddenly, he knew what he needed to do. Soon he was on a plane to Ireland to hang out with a weathered priest named Jim Killeen.

What is in a name?

At root it is a random collection of letters, a functional system of identification that replaced pointing and grunting. But the poetic pleasures that come from using our names, from hearing our names, from Googling our names far outstrip their intended characteristic of being "useful." Freud would say names are cathected, meaning that we invest them with irrational emotional energy.


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© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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