2008.07.04

You can’t live in the world without an idea of the world, but it’s living that makes the ideas. Hannah (278), Angels in America

The paper is written, not done, but written. Further revisions to come. Here are some of my reading notes from this semester.

Marx was right: The smallest indivisible human unit is two people, not one; one is fiction.

Tony Kushner, from the Afterword

There are passages in Suddenly Last Summer which are perhaps as well written as anything I’ve done.

Tennessee Williams, from his Memoirs (176)

There are massive tree-flowers that suggest organs of a body, torn out, still blistering with undried blood; there are harsh cries and sibilant hissings and thrashing sounds in the garden as if it were inhabited by beast, serpents and birds, all of savage nature.

a description of Sebastian’s garden by Tennessee Williams, Suddenly Last Summer (09)

I’ve always loved Williams. The first time I read Streetcar, I was annihilated. I read as much Williams as I could get my hands on until the late plays started getting embarrassingly bad…. I’m really influenced by Williams.

Kushner, from Fisher, James. “‘The Angels of Fructification’: Tennessee Williams, Tony Kushner, and Images of Homosexuality on the American Stage.” Mississippi Quarterly. 491, 1995/6, 13.

Above his desk, in a cabin at the bottom of the garden, where he goes to write, hangs a photograph of Tennessee Williams, smiling over a bottle of wine. Harold Bloom told Kushner recently that Williams “is your most distinguished ancestor in the American drama and one who I think you’ll wind up rivalling.” The two playwrights share, at least, a belief that struggle is the natural order of things. “I’m deeply aware of what developmental psychologists call ‘optimal frustration,’ “ Kushner says. “The way children learn is that the task they have in front of them is always a little too difficult and forces a degree of concentrated angry attention. It should be a struggle. It’s fun to struggle. We’re born to it.”

from Lahr, John. “After Angels.” New Yorker. 80.4, 2005, 42-52.

I envision a lengthy service. Bring lunch.

Kushner, re: his own funeral. Three songs he has written into his will as requirements for his funeral service: Cole Porter’s “Begin the Beguine,” Brahms’s Fourth, and Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony.

A good play, like good lasagna, should be over stuffed. It has a pomposity, and an over reach. Its ambitions extend in the direction of not-missing-a-trick, it has a bursting omnipotence up its sleeve.

Kushner, from Thinking About the Longstanding Problems of Virtue and Happiness, a collection of essays, 1995.

And how else should an angel land on earth but with the utmost difficulty? If we are to be visited by angels we will have to call them down with sweat and strain, we will have to drag them out of the skies.

Kushner, in an open letter to the first cast of Angels. from Lahr, John. “After Angels.” New Yorker. 80.4, 2005, 42-52.

It’s the fear of what comes after the doing that makes the doing hard to do.

Martin, Angels in America: Millennium Approaches