March 15, 2004

"The imaginative flowering of the primitive urge." Here's an interview with Robbins about his play, and it does confirm--see previous post--that Pearly White is Richard Perle. It's a radio interview with Brooke Gladstone that begins with a dialogue from MacBird, the old Vietnam era play, which melded MacBeth with Lyndon Johnson. MacBird is amazingly crass. Robbins doesn't seem to be terribly bright. Gladstone feeds him a Philip Roth definition of satire and invites him to adopt it:
"Satire is moral rage transformed into cosmic art." What begins as a desire to murder your enemy with blows is, quote, "converted in the attempt to murder him with invective and insult. It's the imaginative flowering of the primitive urge to knock somebody's block off. ...So Tim, what makes you angry enough - if you follow Philip Roth's rubric - to write Embedded?"

Somehow, Robbins doesn't have the sense to reframe the definition to exclude himself from the murderous rage aspect. Perhaps he was distracted by the "imaginative flowering" part. This is also uninspiring:
[Gladstone:] In your play, [the embedded reporters'] stories had to be approved by the military chief there, a character that you call Hardchannel, but when the embedded process started, we read the rules of embedment issued by the Pentagon, and that wasn't in it. Reporters never had to submit their stories. They said they never would have agreed to it.

TIM ROBBINS: Mmmmm-- I don't know if that's true or not ...

When murderous anger gets the imagination flowering, you get satire, which represents the truth in some deeper way than actual, literal truth, which is why you're an artist and not a reporter. Except the play is really bad (I hear), which is the unforgivable part for the artist, and the truth does still matter, even the parts too superficial for an artist to bother to learn.

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