Friday, December 26, 2008

Harold Pinter

The late, great Harold Pinter just passed. I have mixed feelings about England, and I daresay most of them bad. But when they produce people like Pinter, they can't be all bad, eh? After all, it took the English -- Clapton, Mayall, Green, Page, Beck -- to tell us about our own American tradition and evangelize it to the world. Not to mention another Englishman, Chas Chandler, seeing what Jimi had.

Was there anyone who raised the ire of conservatives like good ole' Harry? It was pretty funny to see the right's tight-sphincters's tighten up even more when Pinter went against the US tirade -- led by Bubba, Albright, et al - of the vilification of Milosevic, the "dirty commie."

I appreciate Charlie Rose not for his interview skills, which I find lacking, but the pull of his show. He does attract some great people, and in fact, in his last intro to Chomsky revealed that the most requested guest was in fact Noam. But here's a good example and Pinter's great response.

Charlie Rose: How did it [experiencing the German bombings of London] shape the way you feel and think?

Pinter: Well, I realized what a bomb was. I was under bombs!


In that same interview, Pinter also says the great truth about west Asia, aka "the middle east," and the elephant in the room no one, ironically save for Bin-Laden(!), wants to talk about: American support of Israel. And Pinter, like the other noted outspoken Israeli critic, Chomsky, is a Jew.

Yeah, yeah, I know, they're self-hating Jews.

It's always interesting to me that when people level this criticism at people like Chomsky and Pinter, that it comes from people who, intellectually, aren't even in the same league.

And to make this great man's passing about me, I remember as a know-nothing young man reading The Dumb Waiter while under Surrealism's spell. I thought, this guy is doing it differently, but really well. I was also reading some Beckett, particularly the Beckett of Endgame. All along with heavy doses of Bunuel and you had the makings of one very unsatisfied young man! Today, this young man is old, but he still looks back and never forgets the skies of his youth.

Beyond anything I can say about him, here are some of Pinter's quotes, courtesy of

Clinton's hands remain incredibly clean, don't they, and Tony Blair's smile remains as wide as ever. I view these guises with profound contempt.

All that happens is that the destruction of human beings - unless they're Americans - is called collateral damage.

I also found being called Sir rather silly.

I could be a bit of a pain in the arse. Since I've come out of my cancer, I must say I intend to be even more of a pain in the arse.

Iraq is just a symbol of the attitude of western democracies to the rest of the world.

It's so easy for propaganda to work, and dissent to be mocked.

Most of the press is in league with government, or with the status quo.

The crimes of the U.S. throughout the world have been systematic, constant, clinical, remorseless, and fully documented but nobody talks about them.

There is a movement to get an international criminal court in the world, voted for by hundreds of states-but with the noticeable absence of the United States of America.

There's a tradition in British intellectual life of mocking any non-political force that gets involved in politics, especially within the sphere of the arts and the theatre.

While The United States is the most powerful nation the world has ever seen, it is also the most detested nation that the world has ever known.