David Mamet, estimable playwright of certified masterpieces like American Buffalo and (in my humble opinion) The Cryptogram, really needs to shut the hell up. Well, at least he needs to stop writing essays like the one in this week's Village Voice, in which he meanders incoherently through an explanation of why he recently rid himself of his "brain-dead liberalism." Never mind that he's writing about brain-dead liberalism in a brain-dead liberal publication, it's really just the plain old technique of the piece that rankles. Mamet (to whom I once served very crisp bacon at a Newton, MA diner) has long been praised for his terse yet lyrical writing style (got him a Pulitzer!), but it does him no service here. He jumps willy nilly from point to point, anecdote to anecdote, losing his way every time. Maybe you more politically savvy, high-minded types can parse it better than I, but to me it seems to be just a weird, regressive attempt to publicize his new-ish Broadway play November. After the jump, my favorite paragraph from the essay, plus video of Mamet on Charlie Rose talking about Oleanna.
These cherished precepts had, over the years, become ingrained as increasingly impracticable prejudices. Why do I say impracticable? Because although I still held these beliefs, I no longer applied them in my life. How do I know? My wife informed me. We were riding along and listening to NPR. I felt my facial muscles tightening, and the words beginning to form in my mind: Shut the fuck up. "?" she prompted. And her terse, elegant summation, as always, awakened me to a deeper truth: I had been listening to NPR and reading various organs of national opinion for years, wonder and rage contending for pride of place. Further: I found I had been—rather charmingly, I thought—referring to myself for years as "a brain-dead liberal," and to NPR as "National Palestinian Radio."