March 18, 2014

The always quotable David Mamet

David Masciotra  interviews David Mamet

“The combative nature of human beings in relationships with each other and in the understanding of themselves is the essence of the tragic view,” Mamet said before continuing, “The marvelous thing about my discovery of conservative philosophy and economics is that it made sense with my previous experience in the world. It is saying that there are things beyond our understanding, but by observing them we might be able to deal with them. We can never completely do away with the final remainder of discomfort, mutual loathing, and self-doubt, because that is part of the human condition.
It is the well-intentioned, but destructive attempt to assuage the fear of matriculation, and the lack of incentive to prove one’s worth, competence, and skill, that have created a culture of conformity, weakness, and banality. “If one tries to save the young from the rigors and traumas of life, you’re saving them from life,” Mamet said.
The great jazz critic and essayist Stanley Crouch makes the compelling point that the invention of modern music, and the establishment of the blues aesthetic, by illiterate slaves in cotton fields might very well be the “greatest achievement in the history of the species,” but all America hears and sees every February, during black history month, are the slave narratives and pictures of fire hoses.

Mamet pointed out that one of the most tired, and tiresome, tropes of American politics is the piety that “we must have a dialogue on race.” “We’ve been having one continuous dialogue on race for my entire lifetime, and it only worsens and widens the divide,” he said before explaining that American liberalism infantilizes black Americans in a culture of dependency. “Black people”, Mamet pointed out, “are sufficiently smart and strong not to need the paternalism of good willed white liberals to make it.”

In Mamet’s Academy Award winning film, The Verdict, Paul Newman gives one of his finest performances as a hard luck lawyer who, after years of decadence and depression, finds a reason to fight for what is right and redeem himself after years of spiritual poverty. Mamet told me that “Newman’s character was trying, as many Americans are now, to deny the life of the soul.”

It is hard to come back to life,” Mamet said, “Especially when your country is doing what all great civilizations have done, which is to try to use its wealth to eradicate human nature.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at March 18, 2014 2:12 PM | Permalink