David Mamet’s Right-Wing Conversion

June 18, 2011

Sunday Book Review - The New York Times
By Christopher Hitchens

"This is an extraordinarily irritating book, written by one of those people who smugly believe that, having lost their faith, they must ipso facto have found their reason. In order to be persuaded by it, you would have to be open to propositions like this: “Part of the left’s savage animus against Sarah Palin is attributable to her status not as a woman, neither as a Conservative, but as a Worker.”

Read More (nytimes.com)

12 comments:

Kathryn Johnstone said...

Reading Christopher Hitchens' writing is always a pleasure and an education. Even on such an irritating topic as David Mamet's notions.

Mark Wilson said...

I agree with his broad strokes about crazy fucking liberals spewing party line politics but I think Dave is rather like Christopher Hitchens in many ways: HE is living inside an argument of self which is all about anger and resentment and moral outrage and usually this manifests itself as brilliant drama on Mamet’s part and as brilliant argument and polemics on Hitch's part, but when they don't have their critical apparatus banging on all cylinders, they just seem like they are arguing with the wind about the authority of the weather. It's self-indulgence of the most wily and worst kind; a lot of mental masturbation and rage ventilation. It's a rhetorical exercise in the art of all things uselessly emphatic, like FOX or MSNBC in their most self-indulgent moments. They’re walking the obstacle course of their brilliant minds and reminding and assuring themselves of their ability to negotiate all its awe-inspiring rhetorical hurdles and hindrances.

Mamet requires the intense rubric of dramaturgy in order to articulate his rage, and Hitchens requires clear evidence of moral transgression in order to articulate his, and when they do the results are electrifying and awesome. When they don’t it often just sounds like frustration and adult toddler-tantruming. This book is what great writers do when they're building up to writing the next great work. This is the lead-in to the next great play. You can tell Mamet's thinking a hell of lot of big stuff through and that he’s onto something which is perhaps currently greater than his powers of understanding it are (maybe that all politics on both sides of the aisle are fueled by the same raging narcissism that fuels great writers and which makes it that much harder for those writers to identify their own ever-arguing selves as anything like the permanent, contented labels of Left or Right, but which rather keeps them in the critical equivalent of what Keats called “negative capability,” that limbo of mystery and noncommittalness and ambiguity, all in service of pursuing ultimate Truth while free of the chains of all belief or dogma), but I'm sure it'll all surface soon enough on the stage and will probably be fucking brilliant. But the only guy Dave seems to be arguing with here is himself. I mean: shut up and write more drama for the stage and screen, not for tomes about cultural criticism. But it’s always fun to see a great writer’s process, nevertheless, especially when it's criticized by another great like Hitchens.

. said...

Mamet, a narcissist, has joined the small bourgeois group who have become part of the herd of mainstream acceptable opinion; indirectly he is at the beck and call, or useful to the financial oligarchy that runs this narcissistic country. Hitchens falls precisely into that same category with his views on wars in the Middle East. Makes no difference whether one claims liberalism or a right wing ideology, both can believe in the excuses they make of the enormous payouts to CEO’s of failing companies or to the Anglo-American Empire’s aggressive wars across the planet in the name of some illusion. They wouldn’t dare speak the truth publicly, because America, like most of the world, is not a flat society, a free country, nor a democracy. If the opinions of these two marionettes were really unacceptable to mainstream media, they wouldn’t have a platform to voice their eloquent opinions and would have to resort to the few alternative news sites out there which are being tolerated now by the national security state.

Anonymous said...

"I am writing this review in the same week as I am conducting a rather exhausting exchange with Noam Chomsky in the pages of a small magazine."

Can anyone identify this "small magazine" Hitchens is talking about?

Brendan James said...

Guernica.

Anonymous said...

But there is no "exchange" at Guernica; just a statement by Hitchens:
http://www.guernicamag.com/blog/2716/christopher_hitchens_refutio/

Michael Dawson said...

Better question: Can anybody identify the "rather exhausting exchange?" There was barely an exchange at all, and what there was was initiated by Hitchens.

Warmongering and self-pity are an ugly, if familiar combination.

Chris said...

Well anon,Hitch is just talking about the spat he's had with Chomsky over the course of events following Bin Laden's death(and 9/11 really).Chomsky naturally was skeptical about absolutely everything to do with the American State's narrative of the War on Terror and Hitch is calling him out on this.Tis all......

Anonymous said...

Mamet's book and his political journey are much more interesting than Hitchens allows, though the selections he quotes are rather devastating.
Henry

Anonymous said...

Chris,

You obviously haven't read anything Chomsky has actually written about 9/11, or maybe anything else.
I hope Hitchens pays you to speak for him.

Sally Forth said...

I don't think that I'll bother to find out if Mamet's book is more interesting than Hitchens allows. One who suggests that the Left objects to Palin because she is a "Worker" must be living in an alternate reality of which I want no part.

Karen Olsen said...

Has Christopher Hitchens posted an article at Slate yet this week? So far, I haven't found anything...


--Karen Olsen
Seattle, WA

 
 
 

Christopher reads from Hitch-22: A Memoir