The shadow of a cornstalk on the ground is lovely, but it is no denial of its loveliness to see as one looks on it that it is telling the time of day, the position of the earth and the sun, the size of our planet and its shape, and perhaps even the length of its life and ours among the stars.
Well, I spent six or seven years after high school trying to work myself up. Shipping clerk, salesman, business of one kind or another. And it's a measly manner of existence. To get on that subway on the hot mornings in summer. To devote your whole life to keeping stock, or making phone calls, or selling or buying. To suffer fifty weeks of the year for the sake of a two-week vacation, when all you really desire is to be outdoors, with your shirt off. And always to have to get ahead of the next fella. And still — that's... Read more »
I believe in work. If somebody doesn't create something, however small it may be, he gets sick. An awful lot of people feel that they're treading water -- that if they vanished in smoke, it wouldn't mean anything at all in this world. And that's a despairing and destructive feeling. It'll kill you.
The success of a play, especially one's first success, is somewhat like pushing against a door which is suddenly opened that was always securely shut until then. For myself, the experience was invigorating. It suddenly seemed that the audience was a mass of blood relations, and I sensed a warmth in the world that had not been there before. It made it possible to dream of daring more and risking more.
When irrational terror takes to itself the fiat of moral goodness somebody has to die. ... No man lives who has not got a panic button, and when it is pressed by the clean white hand of moral duty, a certain murderous train is set in motion.
A genuine invention in the realm of ideas must first emerge as an abstruse and even partial concept? At first blusha new idea appearstobe verycloseto insanity because to be new it must reverse important basic beliefs and assumptions which, in turn, have been institutionalized and are administered by one or another kind of priesthood with a vested interest in an old idea.
A play's an interpretation. It is not a report. And that is the beginning of its poetry because, in order to interpret, you have to distort toward a symbolic construction of what happened, and as that distortion takes place, you begin to leave out and overemphasize and consequently deliver up life as a unity rather than as a chaos, and any such attempt, the more intense it is, the more poetic it becomes.
Americans don't speak foreign languages, by and large. Their interest in anything beyond the borders of the country is limited. A European of any cultivation has to speak a couple of languages; he inevitably without being very thoughtful about it gets to understand what other people think about him.
By whatever means it is accomplished, the prime business of a play is to arouse the passions of its audience so that by the route of passion may be opened up new relationships between a man and men, and between men and Man. Drama is akin to the other inventions of man in that it ought to help us to know more, and not merely to spend our feelings.
Part of knowing who we are is knowing we are not someone else. And Jew is only the name we give to that stranger, the agony we cannot feel, the death we look at like a cold abstraction. Each man has his Jew; it is the other.
Life is an endless, truly endless struggle. There's no time when we're going to arrive at a plateau where the whole thing gets sorted. It's a struggle in the way every plant has to find it's own way to stand up straight. A lot of the time it's a failure. And yet it's not a failure if some enlightenment comes from it.
My plays are always involved with society, but I'm writing about people, too, and it's clear over the years that audiences understand them and care about them. The political landscape changes, the issues change, but the people are still there. People don't really change that much.
And old Dave, he'd go up to his room, y'understand, put on his green velvet slippers - I'll never forget - and pick up his phone and call the buyers, and without leaving his room, at the age of eighty-four, he made his living. And when I saw that, I realized that selling was the greatest career a man could want.