David Mamet: The Secret Knowledge

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Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

Chapter 1 - THE POLITICAL IMPULSE

Chapter 2 - THE AMERICAN REALITY

Chapter 3 - CULTURE, SCHOOL SHOOTINGS, THE AUDIENCE, AND THE ELEVATOR

Chapter 4 - ALCATRAZ

Chapter 5 - LOST HORIZON

Chapter 6 - THE MUSIC MAN

Chapter 7 - CHOICE

Chapter 8 - THE RED SEA

Chapter 9 - CHICAGO

Chapter 10 - MILTON FRIEDMAN EXPLAINED

Chapter 11 - WHAT IS “DIVERSITY”?

Chapter 12 - THE MONTY HALL PROBLEM AND THE CONTRACTOR

Chapter 13 - MAXWELL STREET

Chapter 14 - R100

Chapter 15 - THE INTELLIGENT PERSON’S GUIDE TO SOCIALISM AND ANTI-SEMITISM

Chapter 16 - THE VICTIM

Chapter 17 - PURITANS

Chapter 18 - THE NOBLE SAVAGE

Chapter 19 - ADVENTURE SLUMMING

Chapter 20 - CABINET SPIRITUALISM AND THE CAR CZAR

Chapter 21 - RUMPELSTILTSKIN

Chapter 22 - MY FATHER, AL SHARPTON, AND THE DESIGNATED CRIMINAL

Chapter 23 - GREED

Chapter 24 - ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT

Chapter 25 - OAKTON MANOR AND CAMP KAWAGA

Chapter 26 - FEMINISM

Chapter 27 - THE ASHKENAZIS

Chapter 28 - SOME PERSONAL HISTORY

Chapter 29 - THE FAMILY

Chapter 30 - NATURALLY EVOLVED INSTITUTIONS

Chapter 31 - BREATHARIAN

Chapter 32 - THE STREET SWEEPER AND THE SURGEON, OR MARXISM EXAMINED

Chapter 33 - SELF-EVIDENT TRUTH

Chapter 34 - HOPE AND CHANGE

Chapter 35 - THE SMALL REFRIGERATOR

Chapter 36 - BUMPER STICKERS

Chapter 37 - LATE REVELATIONS

Chapter 38 - WHO DOES ONE THINK HE IS?

Chapter 39 - THE SECRET KNOWLEDGE

Acknowledgements

BIBLIOGRAPHY

INDEX

SENTINEL

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A. • Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) • Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England • Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd) • Penguin Books Australia Ltd, 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd) • Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi–110 017, India • Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd) • Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

First published in 2011 by Sentinel, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Copyright © David Mamet, 2011

All rights reserved

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING IN PUBLICATION DATA

Mamet, David.

The secret knowledge : on the dismantling of American culture / David Mamet. p. cm.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

eISBN : 978-1-101-51535-8

1. Right and left (Political science)—United States. 2. Political culture—United States. 3. United States—Politics and government—21st century. I. Title.

JK1726.M36 2011

320.51’30973—dc22 2010049347

Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrightable materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

http://us.penguingroup.com

This book is dedicated to the memory of my father.

Most initiations are about the devolution of responsibility. At the same time, initiations often double as a long and confused moment of shared truths. Essentially, what the adults, elders, or senior members of the group share with the initiates is the knowledge they possess, and then they admit to a terrible secret, the secret of the “tribe”—that beyond the knowledge the initiates have just been given there is no special knowledge.

—Anna Simons, The Company They Keep

1

THE POLITICAL IMPULSE

All religions stem from the same universal needs. Each contains awe, obedience, grace, study, prayer, and submission. Each religion will order and stress these elements differently, but their root is the same—a desire to understand the Divine and its intentions for humankind.

The political impulse, similarly, must, however manifested, proceed from a universal urge to order social relations.

Emotions may elevate practical partisan differences to the realm of the spiritual or doctrinal, which is to say, the irreconcilable—Democrats, notably, are more likely to credit terrorists taken in battle against our country rather than Republicans, and many liberal Jews to believe the statements of Hamas rather than those of Israel.

In the election of 2008, environmental, social, and financial change were the concerns of both parties. The Right held that a return to first principles would arrest or re-channel this momentum toward bankruptcy and its attendant geopolitical dangers. It suggested fiscal conservatism, greater and more efficient exploitation of natural resources, lower taxes, a stronger military. The Left’s view was to suggest that Change was good in itself—that a problem need not be dealt with mechanically (by acts whose historical efficacy was demonstrable) but could be addressed psychologically, by identifying “change itself” as a solution.

The underlying question, common to both sides, was how to deal with this problematic change; the Conservative answer, increased exploitation of the exploitable and conservation of needless expenditure—in effect, sound business practice; that of the Liberals a cessation of the same. Each were and are interested in Security, the Liberals suggesting détente and the Conservatives increased armament; each side was interested in Justice, the Conservatives holding it will best be served by the strict rule of law, the Liberals by an increase in the granting of Rights.

This opposition appealed to me as a dramatist. For a good drama aspires to be and a tragedy must be a depiction of a human interaction in which both antagonists are, arguably, in the right.

My early plays, American Buffalo, The Water Engine, Glengarry Glen Ross, concerned Capitalism and business. This subject consumed me as I was trying to support myself, and like many another young man or woman, had come up against the blunt fact of a world which did not care.

I never questioned my tribal assumption that Capitalism was bad, although I, simultaneously, never acted upon these feelings. I supported myself, as do all those not on the government dole, through the operation of the Free Market.

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