Sorrow [#100] | The National
Mandatory reading from The Wire’s David Simon: ‘There are now two Americas. My country is a horror show’
So how does it get better? In 1932, it got better because they dealt the cards again and there was a communal logic that said nobody’s going to get left behind. We’re going to figure this out. We’re going to get the banks open. From the depths of that depression a social compact was made between worker, between labour and capital that actually allowed people to have some hope.
We’re either going to do that in some practical way when things get bad enough or we’re going to keep going the way we’re going, at which point there’s going to be enough people standing on the outside of this mess that somebody’s going to pick up a brick, because you know when people get to the end there’s always the brick. I hope we go for the first option but I’m losing faith.
The other thing that was there in 1932 that isn’t there now is that some element of the popular will could be expressed through the electoral process in my country.
The last job of capitalism – having won all the battles against labour, having acquired the ultimate authority, almost the ultimate moral authority over what’s a good idea or what’s not, or what’s valued and what’s not – the last journey for capital in my country has been to buy the electoral process, the one venue for reform that remained to Americans.
Right now capital has effectively purchased the government, and you witnessed it again with the healthcare debacle in terms of the $450m that was heaved into Congress, the most broken part of my government, in order that the popular will never actually emerged in any of that legislative process.
So I don’t know what we do if we can’t actually control the representative government that we claim will manifest the popular will. Even if we all start having the same sentiments that I’m arguing for now, I’m not sure we can effect them any more in the same way that we could at the rise of the Great Depression, so maybe it will be the brick. But I hope not.
Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon with director Billy Wilder on the set of The Apartment, photographed by Richard C. Miller, 1960.
Abandoned trestle near Olympia, WA
I started writing in college. I had a great playwriting teacher who said ‘you should write’. It almost hadn’t occurred to me that that was something I could do. I was a theater fanatic when I was in high school and –– Wendy Wasserstein? Caryl Churchill? I could count on one hand the women I knew who wrote plays. Every great American playwright was a man. And so I just sort of were like, ‘they’re men, they’re probably smarter than me, I can’t do it’. And then someone was like ‘Why did you ever think that? You can totally do it.’ But I think if you don’t have examples, it’s very hard to imagine yourself doing it.
[ Greta Gerwig on the importance of women as screenwriters | x ]