Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The tragedy of a rigid ideology

David Mamet's Damascene conversion from 'brain dead liberalism' has caused a predictable furore among, um, brain dead liberals the world over. Perhaps the best, because least self-aware, reaction has been from, inevitably, the Guardian's Michael Billington. Nailing his colours firmly to the mast, Billington says that he's not upset for Mamet himself because of his new aversion to the tenets of liberal orthodoxy:
What worries me is the effect on his talent of locking himself into a rigid ideological position.
There's a lovely view into the mindset of a section of the left: adhere religiously to the 'increasingly impractical prejudices' of the left and you are a free-thinking man of depth. Challenge them and you are a fundamentalist incapable of seeing nuance.
Given his new-found conservatism, I doubt he could ever write a play riddled with such moral ambiguity.
Because conservatives are stupid, as we all know, and can see only in generalities. Mind you, I'm not certain how valuable Bilington's opinions are: compare and contrast the following two sentences:
Mamet's greatness as a dramatist has always depended on two things. One is his fantastic ear for everyday speech rhythms: in particular, the four-letter bluster with which men mask their insecurities.
"Mamet," I suggested to my friend, "is not anti-women. Only against a political orthodoxy that sometimes drives them, along with men, into false positions."
If that's the sort of everday speech rhythym for which Mamet had such a fantastic ear, maybe he's not so wonderful after all...

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