Limits of Postmodern and Pomo Americana

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TOPICS: drama + comedy + postmodern + american age + self + future + death + past + present + time + space + love + family + generations + god * 2007
Fall 2006 Theatre UAF

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David Mamet: A Research and Production Sourcebook by David K. Sauer, Janice A. Sauer; Praeger, 2003 questia.com

All the Erotic Drive of a Donkey Cart Newspaper article; The Evening Standard (London, England), April 23, 2004

Between Men and Women by David Mamet 1996

Mamet UAF 2006: Oleanna -- pomo.vtheatre.net

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mamet: Between Men and Women

When all is said and done it is, of course, always about sex. What else could it be about? And if it is constantly changing, what else could it do?

Cheap entertainments record or counterfeit the sexual act, but that does not get to it, or it only satisfies us to the extent that we deem sex entertainment.

The lawyers say it starts in bed and ends in court; and, indeed, the contemporary barrage of pornography is counterbalanced by our brave litigiousness.

Dramaormusic canprovoke anear-sexual appreciation in exciting a love of death. Many seek and live to sustain this feeling, as if one could live in abandonment forever--it is the adolescent equivalent to the search for perpetual motion.

The child tries to square the circle, thinking, "Many have failed, but I am blessed"; men of more advanced age set out to conquer the world, the land, a skill, one or some women.

And women, for their part, what would they be painting and primping for if not to conquer that same man?

Where, in this seamlessness, is there room for misery?

In the yearning for romance, in the man's Mariolatry and in the woman's hero-worship, is the urge to conquer and the urge to subdue in the ironic operations of chance upon the enthusiastic, in the bitter and protracted conversation of remorse.

We are crazed to get into it and crazed to get out of it.

We are unbalanced by passion or by the hatred of the passionate.

The only control seems a dry unregarding philosophy, practicable only by those pitifully devoid of such gifts of spirit as our own.

We find our misplaced passions ludicrous, but not our hatred; and our new painful wisdom, in the termination of the marriage, the affair, the pact or the illusion, frequently finds that new partner of such proverbial unworthiness as to send our friends scurrying for the telephone.

Through it all, as audience or actor, we nod ourheads sagely, or shake them in sorrow, and know that in spite we are fated to square the circle, come at the Hesperides, and live both happily and forever.

But who would want it if it came to us?

In both demands we are as the infant-center of its world--who requires that the world conform to both and each of its two modes: furious, and satiated.

And, of course, at the same time, we call it grand.

The chance discovery of the old love letter, the personal erotic code, three words or symbols on a florist's card, the note found in a coat unworn these years since the end of the affair that came to a bad end; the anger, the self-loathing, the embarrassment, are confusingly sharp, as are the souvenirs and memories of more successful love--both relics of decision and folly proved by time to've been operating in service not of our own personal dreams but of the mating instinct. There is its stamp, even in the curses of the divorce court, the sex slanders of the popular press, the lawsuits and totalitarian sexual proclamations of freedom: "You have disappointed me. I demand you, your sex, someone, be all-in-all to me, and you have failed. Redress my wrongs, make me complete"--the one sex demands the other make it whole, and even the supposed dry legalistic debate is nothing other than a simulation of the sexual act: "Complete me, release me, make me whole." What a surprise.

And the woman can confab with the women and the men herd with the men, as both have always done, and bitch to each other without end, but to consider such affinity other than a counterbalance is to confound the Racing Form with the race.

The former can have final interest only to those who have not seen and do not long to see the horses run.

What could be more lovely than two folks in love, more sordid than two bickering--that demand that not only their partner but the Community make them complete, as if one were, for all the world, returning a defective item to the place of purchase and exhibiting its shortcoming. As one is. For it was the Group that gave us our choice, and if we are, as we are, not fated for bliss, then surely the Group, in large or small, must bear the fault.

We love the wedding, but we adore the divorce. Its entertainment value is protracted through the rift, the threat of reconciliation, the legality and post-mortem recriminations.

The wedding proceeds with thoughtless speed from the courtship (in itself a bore to any but the Two) to the ceremony and then to the Comrnunity wait for, and insistence upon, the first offspring.

But no, we, speaking as Principal, exclaim, nothing, not birth or parenthood, neither wisdom nor age, will debar us as participants in the drama of sex.

We will claim until death at the very least the honorific right of search for bliss.

Why with one rather than another?

The figure, or the face. Their intellect, or wit, or this-or-that--we fall inevitably back upon "a certain, indisputable something" proclaiming them the one. But how often has that something led us astray--like a compass that is sure of North, but whose North bears no relation to any known Pole. And yet we believe in it, while kindness, courtesy and their sure indications of potential happiness beg for believers.

But through much of it we have no goal, only a desire for a state--that state that would amalgamate the thrill of the hunt with the torpor of perfect repletion. What a laugh.

I suppose we could strive to maintain our dignity, and some of us do, and most of us do at some time.

That dignity might rest on a sense of hurnor and, for the odd instance, an appreciation of tragedy and perhaps some belief in its curative powers.

At the end of the day we want someone to hold our hand. If we are happy we want someone to be for us and to whom we can be a hero. In misery we strive to be or find a victim.

In either case we,re searching for a partner to share our idea of home.

David Mamet is the author of The Cryptogram, Oleanna and Glengarry Glen Ross, among other plays, as well as the novel The Village (Little, Brown). His screenplays include The Untouchables, The Verdict and House of Games. [questia.com]

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