By November 23, 2008 46 Comments Read More →

The psychopathic world of David Mamet’s plays

Hilton Als writes this in a recent New Yorker magazine:

Among the many terrible realities to which David Mamet exposes us in his exceptional, calculated work, one theme stands out: suckers will never get a break in this wretched world. In the sixty-year-old playwright’s fictional universe, the humane are too soft and dim-witted to survive; their tormentors chew them up with dry relish. Mamet treats the stage as a kind of bloody forum; the gladiators one finds there are skinny con artists, callow film producers, real-estate agents in cheap suits, and ghastly lovers who spar, using the author’s hyper-stylized language as both spear and shield. Even to refer to some of Mamet’s characters as “lovers” feels wrong—like calling a thief a victim. Mamet’s protagonists do not love; they size each other up and assess what they can extract from each other—and the answer is usually money. If they show any physical tenderness at all, it’s brief; they kiss, then withdraw, constantly reminding themselves of the primary rule of survival: Get or be gotten.

Does this not capture the psychopathic world?

Glengarry Glen Ross, for example is a brilliant, excruciating example which has been made into a movie. Business people speak of making ‘a killing’ – Mamet shows the truth behind this choice of words.

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46 Comments on "The psychopathic world of David Mamet’s plays"

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BloggerT: These companies are pawns for greedy politicians playing Obama. You already saw who the greediest are … replay who’s been out front insisting that the money be forked over – re watch the news reels over the last few weeks. I’ll give you a hint who’s the biggest players of this scam … the Senior Senator from my State … plus the Senators from adjoining State to mine … insisting that all these deadbeat companies should be bailed out. What a bunch of con artists.

The routine was the same how they scammed me. All of them … played me like a fiddle. I had so many fires going on at the same time … they never let me breath … and in the end, they took EVERYTHIING from ME !…. I know what I’m talking about … I lived it. BIG BULLIES and THIEVES all of them! I HOPE THESE A$$H*LES PRICKS GET THROWN OUT OF OFFICE.

Now they are doing the same scam at a bigger level. Note how Obama has to put all these fires out … Fires that these politicians made deals in the backrooms with all these companies.

Obama should hold up all five fingers and tell them to read between the lines.


BloggerT: My EX fiance’s father was head of a union and personally knew our State Senator, as did my EX … they are the same age. All making deals behind my back to nail me.

Now you know why everyone blocks me from having this con-artist picked up … cause the rest of them go down with him … PRICKS all of them.


BloggerT: Correction … I meant to say Congressman from adjoining State to mine. But, the Senator from my State was correct.

Bless you Lily

Don’t really have time to read all the responses here, so sorry to all for whom I’m sure they mean a lot! Yes, Dr. Steve, I find it interesting that you put this here. Mamet’s world is s wild and manipulative–

I’ve recently been watching Kushner’s Angels in America. When it first came out, I saw it on Broadway and didn’t fully understand it. Now that I’ve had a relationship with a major manipulator, I do. Roy Cohn in that play, I believe, embodies the sociopathic spirit of the corrupt American system. Such wonderful dramatic justice that he dies of AIDS (though keeps refusing, right til the end, that he’s really gay) But he DIES, ushered to the other side by Ethel Rosenberg, whose execution he assured. And that wonderful character of Prior Walter LIVES — I now think that Prior is an apt prophet for our time: a person who knows the dark side, recognizes he has to be alert, but also maintains a goodness in his heart.

Notably, too, by the end of the second part of the play he has his beautiful body wrapped in something like a burka. Beauty attracts evil — because evil likes to make beauty its own.

I haven’t seen his plays but don’t think I will.

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