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The Political Libido

In the ever relevant and ever quoted Orwell essay 'Why I Write,' he lists four reasons for writing:

1) Sheer egoism

2) Aesthetic enthusiasm

3) Historial impulse

4) Political purpose

The last, political purpose, probably has caused more consternation than the other three. I mean, no one can doubt - least of all the writer - of the egoism in the whole pursuit. But should we write 'message' stories? Are they real drama?

David Mamet, always fun to read, and even more fun to disagree with, has said that the play teaching us 'blind people are people, too,' is not inherently drama. And it's not, if that's all there is to the play. But I do think the best and most original work is when you allow yourself to have non-reverential thoughts. It might be as simple as looking at the current landscape of movies, plays, books and say, maybe what everyone else likes... sucks. Which is a political act. It's that creative drive, which often -maybe not always - has an element of this political libido. I think that's where a lot of recent work is coming from. I think that's maybe where David Mamet came from. He writes fantastic stuff, and even more fantastic dialogue. And his dialogue is subversive, and anything subversive is inherently political. And how did he write that dialogue? My understanding (obviously limited), is he listened to guys who talked like this. Working collar and low-level criminals (like the characters in American Buffalo) who were funny as shit, and dynamic, and had this beautiful rhythm and music to their speech. He really, listened- to write like that, he has to be one of the world's great listeners. And the explosive and dynamic way of these people in Chicago, who may not have been the type of people normally in plays -- this was his goldmine. And we hadn't heard anything like it before, from people like this before, and that's exactly what's happening now in theatre and movies. It's not the only reason to hear these stories, but it is subversive, and political, and pretty fucking cool. Language may 'corrupt' thought, in ways good and bad, and that's a major reason for art (as well as to entertain).

So, the first three reasons for writing are great, and the fourth is OK, too.

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