Quotation: David Mamet (1947 – )

“If you are going to work in the true theater, that job is a great job in this time of final decay; that job is to bring to your fellows, through the medium of your understanding and skill, the possibility of communion with what is essential in us all: that we are born to die, that we strive and fail, that we live in ignorance of why we were placed here, and, that, in the midst of this we need to love and be loved, but we are afraid.”

from “Decay some thoughts for Actors: Theodore Spencer Memorial Lecture, Harvard, February 10, 1986.”

3 responses to “Quotation: David Mamet (1947 – )

  1. This seems less bleak. Reading Ronald Dworkin right now makes me think of a lot of this. He describes the process through which he believes intellectual circles, particularly academia, have reached a point of skepticism as a moral stance. He describes what he believes are the fallacies and consequences of such a position. I have also been reading Paul Tillich’s Courage to Be, in which he describes the problem of anxiety, which he describes as the great problem of the 20th century. You may not like his references to religion, but you might appreciate what he says about anxiety and how there are various levels to it, some of which he argues can not be fixed by psychoanalysis or biological diagnoses.

    • What are you reading of Dworkin’s? He looks very interesting though I must admit, I’m rather weary (not skeptical) of abstract moral philosophies at the present time. As for Paul Tillich — one my life’s great regrets is that did not take the “Religion and Human Identity” course at Bethel where they read him. Instead, I took the horridly dry and bloodless “Philosophy of Religion” class. Still, from what I know about Tillich I strongly suspect that I would find a great deal more to like in his references to religion than many churchgoers.

      And I agree (as would Mamet) that our anxiety cannot be “fixed” with therapy of pharmaceuticals. The last four minutes of Mamet’s Edmond sums up the situation nicely I think. Edmond’s sins are great indeed but he is no different from most of us in his search for fanciful metaphysical salves to soothe his angst.

      (By the way, I don’t actually recommend that you watch Edmond. I have seen it but it is very difficult and unpleasant to watch. Better to read the script if you’re interested.)

  2. I’m reading Dworkin’s Justice for Hedgehogs, which is slow going for me partly because I’m trying to process it but also because I’m reading Tillich’s Courage to Be and Kathleen Dean Moore’s Pine Island Paradox at the same time. If you are weary of anything, it’s probably not a good time to read Dworkin, though I would say his moral philosophy is less abstract than just about anything else. He is interested in applied philosophy, though it takes him a bit to apply it.

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