Saturday, May 28, 2011

Writing with clarity

Having been on the other side...

Know David Mamet?

Even if you don't know who he is, you surely know his work: "The Untouchables," "The Verdict," "American Buffalo" and the powerful "Glengarry Glen Ross" (remember the character portrayed by Alec Baldwin whose tagline was, "Put that coffee is for closers!"?).

Several years ago, the prize-winning writer (plays, films and assorted other venues) stunned the world of the liberal intelligentsia by penning a controversial op-ed for The Village Voice, "Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain- Dead Liberal," which set that world on its heels. In that piece, he took down liberal beliefs in a way that had those on the left feeling like they'd been simultaneously betrayed and hit with a shotgun blast to the gut.

That op-ed was written in 2008 and the chattering class hasn't stopped talking about it. Now they'll have something to add to their discussions about him and what he's saying. In his new book, "The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture" (published by Sentinel HC), Mamet goes deeper than he could in just a single column. The brilliant, controversial and thought provoking writer takes out after a variety of our era's most important issues, from global warming to religion (and all of the big things in between).

Mamet, in a statement/excerpt provided by his publisher, explains what was behind his latest effort: "The problems facing us, faced by all mankind engaged in Democracy, may seem complex, or indeed insolvable, and we, in despair, may revert to a state of wish fulfillment-a state of 'belief' in the power of the various experts presenting themselves as a cure for our indecision. But this is a sort of Stockholm Syndrome. Here, the captives, unable to bear the anxiety occasioned by their powerlessness, suppress it by identifying with their captors.

"This is the essence of Leftist thought. It is a devolution from reason to 'belief,' in an effort to stave off a feeling of powerlessness," he adds. "And if government is Good, it is a logical elaboration that more government power is Better. But the opposite is apparent both to anyone who has ever had to deal with Government and, I think, to any dispassionate observer. It is in sympathy with the first and in the hope of enlarging the second group that I have written this book."

Given the shockwaves his 2008 piece still makes, there is little doubt that Mamet's latest criticism of the left's lockstep thinking/responses will do anything less.

The infamous "Glengarry Glen Ross" scene, immortalized by Baldwin but created by Mamet...

1 comment:

Cali Tatum said...

very good post Mr. Bliss, very good.