Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mamet's Conservative Turn

The Village Voice is not known for publishing conservative manifestos, but then, David Mamet isn't your typical conservative or conservative convert. It was in 2008 (not exactly a time when people were blocking to the conservative cause) that Mamet wrote an essay published by the Village Voice entitled "Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal'". Now Mamet has a book out about his political epiphany, The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture, and although I generally don't like current political conversion stories or manifestos, I confess myself curious to read it.

I went through a Mamet phase in college and read all of his plays that I could lay my hands on, and since he turned to movies I've been enjoying seeing him hit more of a balance between his characteristically stylized dialog and telling a story. While you don't get much spectacular dialog than Blake's rant in Glengarry Glen Ross (language warning: Mamet makes Quentin Tarantino sound like a schoolboy)

It seems to me that Spanish Prisoner is a better movie qua movie:

And from that point on Mamet's movies have generally balanced story and style rather than relying entirely on the latter.

Still, the author of Sexual Perversity in Chicago turns conservative? I feel like I have to read it just to find out what he's up to.


Paul Zummo said...

I just finished reading it and enjoyed it. He has some very keen insights that go beyond the surface level stuff that is typical of much political punditry. My main critique is that it is a bit disjointed. It almost reads like a stream of conscience of his political musings. And yes, he can be guilty of talking in generalities from time to time. But a good effort, overall.

Anonymous said...

The current issue of The Economist, which is hardly a liberal rag, says that Mamet's book is shallow and strident and won't convince anyone who doesn't already agree with him.


Paul Zummo said...

The Economist, which is hardly a liberal rag,

That may have been true about 7 years ago. That said, I would agree that this isn't a book aimed at the undecided. But so what?

Enbrethiliel said...


Piggybacking on what Paul Zummo has observed, I wonder how many conversion stories--political, religious, moral, etc.--are aimed at the undecided.

Anonymous said...

From the Economist:

"For all Mr Mamet’s skill with words, this is a tedious and simplistic rant (government bad; unhampered individuals good, and so on). Economics and politics are reduced to caricatures, with no room for nuance (“the Israelis would like to live in peace within their borders; the Arabs would like to kill them all”). Social policy is reduced to banalities (affirmative action is against the Constitution; “the Liberal Arts University has had it”). And, of course, global warming is a myth."

And further:

"“Liberalism”, he writes, “is a religion. Its tenets cannot be proved, its capacity for waste and destruction demonstrated. But it affords a feeling of spiritual rectitude at little or no cost.” Maybe so, but as an apostate from liberalism Mr Mamet has simply embraced a new religion—with all the excessive zeal of the recent convert."