Thursday, June 16, 2005

A crucible of integrity 

Moving memorial speech for Arthur Miller by Tony Kushner. An extract:

"Arthur Miller's was a great voice, one of the principal voices, raised in opposition, calling for resistance, offering critical scrutiny and lamentation--in other words, he was politically progressive, as politically progressive is best defined in these dark times. He demanded that we must be able to answer, on behalf of our plays, our endeavors, our lives, a really tough question, one that Arthur wrote was the chief and, in a sense, only reason for writing and speaking: "What is its relevancy," he asks, "to the survival of the race? Not," he stipulates, "the American race, or the Jewish race, or the German race, but the human race." He demanded that our work and our lives have some relevance to human survival. The question implies anxiety about that survival, a refusal of complacency, an acknowledgment that there is a human community for which each of us bears responsibility and a warning that we are in danger. Miller tells us that what we do, the things we choose to struggle with in art and elsewhere, can have some effect on the outcome. There is, in other words, reason to hope, and change is possible."

And more:
"He never became a cynic, or a nihilist, or an ego-anarchist, or a despoiler of humanist utopian dreams, or a neocon. His great personal courage and his graceful confidence in his stature and talents made it unnecessary for him to cuddle up to power elites, allowed him to retain his sympathy, his affinity for the disinherited, the marginal and the powerless. He never wanted us to forget that without economic justice, the concept of social justice is an absurdity and, worse, a lie. "

Read it all.

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