Friday, February 11, 2005

From Arthur Miller's autobiography, Timebends:

"It would strike me years later how many male writers had fathers who had actually failed or whom the sons had perceived as failures. Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Hemingway (his father was a suicide), Thomas Wolfe, Steinbeck, Poe, Whitman, Melville and Hawthorne, Chekhov and Dostoyevsky and Strindberg-the list is too long to consign the phenomenon to idiosyncratic accident. As different as these writers are, they share an ambition to create a new cosmology, not merely to describe the visible world around them. If they could, they would devise a new order of perception that would make the world all new, as seen through their eyes."

"But the first church is in the skull, and there the gods face in two directions."

"Until I began to write plays my frustration with this doubleness of reality was terrible, but once I could impersonate all conflicts on a third plane, the plane of art, I was able to enjoy my power-even if a twinge of shame continued to accompany the plays into the world."

"Dramaturgy was the physics of the arts, the one that failed when it lied and succeeded when it cut to the first principles of human life."

"Science was reason's triumph, we had been so pridefully taught, the defeat of the Beast. But what happened when the Beast learned science?"

[commenting on Sinatra singing for Kennedy, then later for Reagan, as if he were royalty and the presidents come and go] "Could this signify that the business of America was not business, as an innocent Calvin Coolidge had said, but show business, symbolic display, the triumph at last of metaphor over reality and the domination of the performer with his pure and pointless charm?"

"We had come to prize and celebrate in our art disconnection for its own sake, but this was not at all the same as tearing apart the givens of experience in order to recreate a fresh unity that would inform us newly about our lives. Our surrealism was naturalism disguised, and as incapable of projecting alternatives to what we were doing and why as naturalism had always been."

"It was more and more difficult to imagine in the last quarter of the century the naked selfness of a free human being speaking with no acknowledged interest except his own truth."

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