Saturday, April 17, 2010

In Memory: Thornton Wilder

Today is Saturday, 17 April 2010.

Today is the birthday of my favourite American playwright (even more than myself!), and tied for the greatest, Thornton Wilder, born in 1897, in Madison, Wisconsin.

"I am not interested in ... such subjects as the adulteries of dentists. I am interested in those things that repeat and repeat and repeat in the lives of the millions."

Were I to have the responsibility to preserve for prosperity [foreshadowing, for those keeping score] only one American play, it might well be Our Town (1938).

(Of course, I’d run a con, and preserve at least a baker’s dozen. Old habits die hard.)

Many consider Our Town an antiquated exercise in nostalgia.

Edward Albee (also tied for greatest) knows better: "Why do people persist in trying to make this tragedy into hearts and flowers?"

It’s not a play about nostalgia: the whole point is in Emily's anguished question: "Does anyone ever realize life while they live it, every, every moment?" Stage Manager: "No ... saints and poets, they do some."

So many moments of “ordinary” life, as if such a thing existed, are infused with such … grandeur, eternity, poignancy … and then, so many times, it’s cut short, death, finis, as in the untimely death of Emily.

Life is such so precious, there is no “ordinary”.

Lillian Hellman is also tied for greatest, as is Eugene O'Neill.

Tomorrow night, the HH’s attend a dinner and talk by another playwright tied for American greatest, Tony Kushner, who wrote Angels in America.


Commenting on yesterday’s column, “Tom Coburn’s Social Diseases”, “Anonymous” wrote, “Ever heard of slander?”

I believe “Anonymous” meant “libel”, since my column was written.

(Perusal of the classic, Black’s Law Dictionary (special thanks to You Know Whom for my copy), which is a wonderful read, will help you avoid such errors in the future. Lex Anglia non patitur absurdum. “The law of England does not suffer an absurdity”.)

American jurisprudence holds that truthful statements are a sufficient and perfect defense against slander and libel.

Sin-ator Coburn proudly and publicly parades his perversion, preaching predatory homophobia and patriarchal fascism on the public airwaves. [A little alliteration for Spiro Agnew aficionados in the audience. “Nattering nabobs of negativism”, indeed. Of course, William Safir ghost-wrote most of it.] Sin-ator Coburn is therefore responsible for the vicious actions of those who purchase into his hate crap.

(Please note that I didn’t ask Sin-ator Coburn if he’d stopped beating his wife, let alone assert that he has. Please note that I didn’t assert Sin-ator Coburn enjoys the closeted homoeroticism of male poledancing.)


Just realized I'd posted this column without a title and italics. Unlike some authors, I never change substance once a column has been posted. I only rectify housekeeping errors.


Anonymous wondering said...

You are one of your own favorite playwrites? It's been a long dry-spell for you, pal.

8:57 AM  

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