Today’s Quote

June 12, 2017

“Orwell would have despised Trump as a kind of fat, dumb, uneducated oligarch,” Ricks said last month in a podcast produced by the magazine Foreign Policy. “Churchill would  see America as somewhat childish. We occasionally stumble and elect a childish president, and that’s what we’ve done here, but Churchill would also appreciate how robust the American government is. Basically, we’ve had a decapitation strike that we executed ourselves. We no longer have a working presidency. There’s nobody at home, mentally, running the U.S. government. And guess what? It runs pretty well by itself. Probably better. If President Trump were competent, he’d be much more dangerous.”

Thomas E. Ricks, N.Y.T. Book Review, June 11, 2017


Today’s Quote

February 17, 2016

ron-chernow-1“From the outset, the young Hamilton had phenomenal stamina for sustained work; ambitious, orphaned boys do not enjoy the option of idleness. Even before starting work, he must have developed unusual autonomy for a thirteen-year-old . . . Hamilton exuded an air of crisp efficiency and cool self-command. While his peers squandered their time on frivolities, Hamilton led a much more strenuous, urgent life that was to liberate him for St. Croix . . . He was a proud and sensitive boy, caught in the lower reaches of a rigid class society with small chance for social mobility.”

Ron Chernow, author of Alexander Hamilton

Penguin Books, 2004


Today’s Quotes

October 5, 2015

BookCover220From note 16, Chapter III: American Scripture, Making the Declaration of Independence, by Pauline Maier

“With regard to the values and educational methods of the eighteenth century, note that Jefferson himself kept a ‘Commonplace Book.’ Its pedagogical purpose was suggested by Jefferson’s teacher, the Rev. James Maury, who instructed his own son to ‘reflect, and remark on, and digest what you read,’ and to dwell on any remarkable beauties of diction, justness or sublimity of sentiment, or masterly strokes of true wit which may occur in the course of your reading.”

From note 97, Chapter IV: American Scripture, Making the Declaration of Independence, by Pauline Maier

“At Chicago, Lincoln . . . said that the argument that the principles of the Declaration of Independence do not apply to blacks was identical to ‘the pauline-maierarguments that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world. You will find that all the arguments in favor of king-craft were of this class.’ Douglas’s argument was like that of ‘the same old serpent’ who says ‘you work and I eat, you toil and I will enjoy the fruits of it. Turn it whatever way you will—whether it come from the mouth of a King, an excuse for enslaving people of his country, or from the mouth of men of one race as a reason for enslaving the men of another race, it all the same old serpent . . . .”


Athol Fugard On Playwriting II

November 7, 2012

Paris Review, The Art of Theater No. 8

Interviewed by Lloyd Richards

Port Elizabeth and its immediate surroundings, is a region that I know like the back of the hand that holds my pen as I write about it. I can stand on a street corner in Port Elizabeth, look at anybody and put together some sort of biography. I know where they come from, where they’re going. I have a feel of the textures of their life. If I stand on a street corner in New Haven, which is a place I’ve gotten to know as well as any place outside of South Africa, I am . . . at a total loss to identify the people passing me on that street.

I would like to believe that if for some reason the situation deteriorated to the point where I was told, “If you leave South Africa, you can never come back,” I’d stay there. There were periods in my life when I could have been seduced away. I am incredibly fortunate that the government took away my passport at the point when I was most open to seduction.

(I)n the late sixties a liberal was a dangerous animal. Liberals aren’t dangerous animals anymore, so they don’t hassle me too much . . . .  I know my telephone is tapped—but I have a passport, a perfectly normal passport. The likes of myself aren’t seen as a threat to the establishment anymore. Now they have to deal with men and women who make bombs and set them off . . . . Their attitude toward me depends on how they feel when they wake up in the morning. Nadine Gordimer, J. M. Coetzee, Andre Brink are as baffled by how and why the government does things as I am. There just doesn’t seem to be any logic to it.

I have never had trouble publishing my work in South Africa. Although there’ve been a couple of occasions when school authorities threw my books out of their libraries.

Nobody can take what I love away from me. I would like to believe that love is the only energy I’ve ever used as a writer. I’ve never written out of anger, although anger has informed love. When I return, that love will still be there, even if the South Africa I go back to in five months’ time is radically different from the one I left. I would like to believe that my absence from South Africa won’t affect my relationship to that country, which has been the source of my inspiration, the soul of my writing.

How one human being deals with another remains the most critical fact in history. You can kill a man, or you can bless him. We all know about our potential to kill; we have dangerously lost sight of the fact that each of us can also bless.

If you’d like to read what people such as Arthur Miller, Sam Shepard, Joyce Carol Oates and other famous — and not so famous — playwrights have to say about the art and craft of writing for the stage, type “On Playwriting” into the small sidebar window and tap the “Search” button.

Part III of the Athol Fugard series will post next Wednesday.


Arthur Miller On Playwriting VIII

February 22, 2012

Adapted from Paris Review: The Art of Theater No. 2

Interviewed by Olga Carlisle and Rose Styron

(Senator Joseph) McCarthy (was) actually saying certain lines that I recall the witch-hunters saying in Salem . . . . For example, his holding up his hand with cards in it, saying, “I have in my hand the names of so-and-so.” Well, this was a standard tactic of seventeenth-century prosecutors confronting a witness who was reluctant or confused, or an audience in a church which was not quite convinced that this particular individual might be guilty . . . . It was a way of inflicting guilt on everybody, and many people responded genuinely out of guilt; some would come and tell him some fantasy, or something that they had done or thought that was evil in their minds. I had in my play, for example, the old man who comes and reports that when his wife reads certain books, he can’t pray. He figures that the prosecutors would know the reason, that they can see through what to him was an opaque glass. Of course he ends up in a disaster because they prosecuted his wife.

I had made a lot of statements and I had signed a great many petitions. I’d been involved in organizations, you know, putting my name down for fifteen years before that. But I don’t think they ever would have bothered me if I hadn’t married Marilyn (Monroe). Had they been interested, they would have called me earlier. And, in fact, I was told on good authority that the then chairman, Francis Walter, said that if Marilyn would take a photograph with him, shaking his hand, he would call off the whole thing. It’s as simple as that. Marilyn would get them on the front pages right away. They had been on the front page for years, but the issue was starting to lose its punch.

I was indicted for contempt for having refused to give or confirm the name of a writer, whether I had seen him in a meeting of communist writers I had attended some eight or ten years earlier. My legal defense was not on any of the Constitutional amendments but on the contention that Congress couldn’t drag people in and question them about anything on the Congressman’s mind; they had to show that the witness was likely to have information relevant to some legislation then at issue. The committee had put on a show of interest in passport legislation. I had been denied a passport a couple of years earlier. Ergo, I fitted into their vise. A year later I was convicted after a week’s trial. Then about a year after that the Court of Appeals threw out the whole thing . . . . It was all a dreadful waste of time and money and anger, but I suffered very little, really, compared to others who were driven out of their professions and never got back, or who did get back after eight and ten years of blacklisting.

I’m in deadly fear of people with too much power. I don’t trust people that much any more. I used to think that if people had the right idea they could make things move accordingly . . . . In the thirties it was, for me, inconceivable that a socialist government could be really anti-Semitic. It just could not happen, because their whole protest in the beginning was against anti-Semitism, against racism, against this kind of inhumanity; that’s why I was drawn to it . . . . I’m much more pragmatic about such things now, and I want to know those I’m against and who it is that I’m backing and what he is like.

I have . . . a psychic investment in the continuity of life. I couldn’t ever write a totally nihilistic work.

This is one in a series that will post on Wednesdays. If you’d like to read more of what people such as Arthur Miller, Sam Shepard, Joyce Carol Oates and other famous — and not so famous — playwrights have to say about the art and craft of writing for the stage, type “On Playwriting” into the small sidebar window and tap the “Search” button. (Arthur Miller On Playwriting part IX will post next Wednesday.)


Hip Shots

November 18, 2011

Occupy Baltimore

By Whydham Standing

(Click images for larger versions.)

The “Hip Shots” series of Doodlemeister.com photographs will feature images that were grabbed “on the fly” with little or no regard for framing and focus. The object of the exercise is to create dynamic pictures, not perfect ones. With this ” shoot-from-the-hip” method, the more frames  exposed the better the chances are that you’ll come up with something interesting — a related series that can be arranged as a post. If you’d like additional tips for using the technique, or to submit your own pictures, drop a question or note in the “Leave a Comment” section, below. Meanwhile, click the “Hip Shots” tag above for many more examples. This feature will appear most Fridays.

Copyright © 2011 Whyndham Standing.

Granted

August 31, 2009

A Brief “Arts” Rant


A friend recently e-mailed this copy of a cartoon by “Mr. Fish,” originally published in Spy magazine. As you can tell by the worn and stained edges, the clipping is one he’s held on to for many years. My friend, himself a successful artist, failed to mention what it was about the image that attracted such devotion, and I didn’t ask because such things are subjective; he has his reasons for thinking it brilliant and I have mine.

I think this cartoon deserves that label for many reasons, but I’ll mention only one that I consider to be the most important. You see, I’m very “anti” when it comes to government giving “arts” grants to individuals under any circumstances.

Community arts groups are another matter, I have no problem with that — give them some of our tax money so long as they faithfully serve a wide population of citizens, especially poor kids. But if you’re a person who has unilaterally decided that you deserve to earn your living making self-indulgent images of whatever kind (drawn, painted, constructed, written), I suggest that you kindly keep your day job until the objective market agrees that your subjective productions are worth paying for, without the help of public money.

Of course, in my opinion, Mr. Fish said all of this and much more — and said it better — in his brilliant cartoon.

Copyright © 2009 Jim Sizemore.