Sunday, March 25, 2012

Stoppard Quotes

Tom Stoppard is usually more indirect about his political beliefs than in this section.  Wise man.  The theater is hardly the place for his "small 'c' conservatism...I'm a timid libertarian."  (Now that David Mamet is more conservative that may be a touch easier.)  But in "The Real Thing" the character Henry - clearly meant to be something like Stoppard - is asked to help with a play written by Brodie, a young vandal who fancies himself a political prisoner (in England). Henry insists it's not that he won't help him but that he can't. Not possible:
Because it's balls. Mary's part is the least of it - it's merely ham-fisted. But when he gets into his stride, or rather his lurch, announcing every stale revelation of the newly-enlightened, like stout Cortez coming upon the Pacific - war is profits, politicians are puppets, Parliament is a farce, justice is a fraud, property is theft...It's all here: the Stock Exchange, the arms dealers, the press can't fool Brodie - patriotism is propaganda, religion is a con trick, royalty is an anachronism...pages and pages of it. It's like being run over very slowly by a traveling freak show of favourite simpletons, the india rubber pedagogue, the midget intellectual, the human panacea...

I can't help somebody who thinks, or thinks he thinks, that editing a newspaper is censorship, or that throwing bricks is a demonstration while building tower blocks is social violence, or that unpalatable statement is provocation while disrupting the speaker is an exercise of free speech...Words don't deserve that kind of malarkey. They're innocent, neutral, precise, standing for this, describing that, meaning the other, so if you look after them you can build bridges across incomprehension and chaos. But when they get their corners knocked off, they're no good any more, and Brodie knocks corners off without knowing he's doing it. So everything he builds is jerry-built. It's rubbish. An intelligent child could push it over. I don't think writers are sacred, but words are.
That last is a rather non-absurdist sentiment, at least in theory, indicating how far Stoppard has traveled since the 60's. But the theory was hardly believed, even as it was put forward. Beckett, Ionesco, Camus - all very precise in their language, though in strange ways.

No comments: