13 June 2011

David Mamet's Secret Knowledge

Near the end of the book, the author reveals "the secret knowledge:" there is no secret knowledge. The neo-Gnostics have no Gnosis.

The book is written in his usual—terse, unflowery, sometimes vulgar, ideas interrupting each other—way that in his plays and films have been characteristic, such that the style has been called "Mamet-speak."Although his conversion depends to a great deal of looking into himself and watching and listening to those around him, he gives much credit to Hayek, and Sowell, and Friedmann as well.

The book reminds me of Whitaker Chambers' Witnessand David Horowitz' Radical Son: how they arrived at their latter-day Tragic View of life; maybe even a little of St Augustine's Confessions. 
He may have been the usual "brain-dead liberal"—his term—for most of his working life in politics. Only in the last few years has he apparently started thinking about the discrepancy between how he acted and how he spoke. Of course he notes the similarities between the theatre and politics: 


“Having spent my life in the theatre, I knew that people could be formed into an audience, that is, a group which surrenders for two hours, part of its rationality, in order to enjoy an illusion.  As I began reading and thinking about politics I saw, to my horror, how easily people could also assemble themselves into a mob, which would either attract or be called into being by those who profited from the surrender of reason and liberty – and these people are called politicians.”*


Although perhaps "brain-dead" politically he has done very well in the theatre and film world: Glengarry Glen Ross and Wag the Dog and many others. The Wikipedia article is a good review of his life and works. They don't seem to have gotten around to his latest yet. I wonder if The Left will change their minds about his work. He is probably well-enough established to make this unlikely to have an effect on his continuing to work.



3 comments:

The Sanity Inspector said...

I'm reading this book now. Even though I largely agree with it, I have to say that it scans like a series of late-night usenet posts.

Ken & Carol said...

That may be the effect of the famous "Mamet-speak." Or maybe he is aging like the rest of us and wants to get it out quickly before we cash in our chips.

Thanks for your comment. Glad you agree.

Ken & Carol said...

PS Thanks for the tip on Coren's book from your profile.

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