Lately I’ve been noding sections of my play An American Book of the Dead - The Game Show: a somewhat tedious and relatively thankless task; but I’m doing it because this play, more than any other I’ve written, says what I want to say-- what I have to say-- about this country——because I love it so much in spite of what I believe to be its worst nature currently playing out on the world scene.
I implore my fellow Everythinginans of other nations to understand that, at our best, Americans are better than what they are currently seeing and hearing on the news. This nation is in a crisis, the seeds of which were planted long before the current administration's decision to go to war to distract the electorate from its failed domestic policies. Indeed, the seeds were planted even before the current administration came to power through means so obviously dubious that even some of the most ardent Right Wing noders feel compelled to admit as much. We are an overly prideful people. De Tocqueville recognized this, as have many other visitors to this country. Even I, an open Leftist, have trouble not wearing my pride as an American on my sleeve. There’s so much to love about this place: its inherent physical beauty; its easy courage and generosity; its delicious blend of cultures that has given us jazz, and baseball, and Cajun cuisine, etc.; its astounding ranks of heroes from Harriet Tubman to Walt Whitman to Audie Murphy (all of whom, and others, I write about in the play I mentioned above).
Even now, I’ll make no excuses for this country: it goes against my grudging patriotic grain; but I’ll admit that this is easily one of our darkest hours. I’ll make a prediction though: something from that which makes this country great will prevail. I am not wise or prescient enough to know what it is, but I am hopelessly optimistically American enough to believe that it will be so. The bastards don’t always win. There will be outcomes to this conflict that neither illegitimate regime can predict or hope for. Here’s to the American people and the Iraqi people! May they both find leaders more worthy of their humanity.
On a different note, I think I’m gonna give up playwriting for a while, forever maybe. Who knows? I could offer a bunch of reasons: the war has taken the wind out of my sails, I’m sick to death of bitchy critics that never have anything better to offer, I’m busy taking care of my baby boy, I’m tired, I’m sick and tired.
I’ve gone through fallow periods before, and there’s always been someone who’s said to me, “Oh, you’ll never give up writing for good. You have to write. You couldn’t stop if you tried.” I know they mean this as some sort of flattery, but I hate it just the same. To me this is a description of addiction. I have never wanted to be the kind of artist who churned out product no matter what, without fail, without pause. I don’t begrudge my colleagues who work like this, but for me, if there’s no option of keeping quiet for a while, or forever, then everything I say is suspect, coming as it does from a place of neurosis and compulsion rather than genuine inspiration.
So maybe I’ll continue to jabber here, and node my plays, for petty archival purposes, if nothing else. And maybe I’ll find the quiet courage to drop completely out of earshot here, there, and everywhere, until and unless I have something meaningful to say.