Friday, January 10, 2014

Tynan on Theatre (1964)

Kenneth Tynan begins his essay "Culture in Trouble" with a television programme called "The Crisis in Our Culture, where W. H. Auden, Jacques Barzun and Lionel Trilling debate the coming decade (the 1960s).

From there, Tynan identifies two trends he expects to see more of in American Theatre: the first is "biography"; the second, what I suppose could be reduced to interiority ("the belief that what happens inside a human being is more important than what happens outside").

Oddly enough, it is from this second trend that Tynan turns to fiction for his examples, describing Salinger's Glass family as "mainly composed of latter-day mystics and self-slaughtered saints whose offers of disinterested love are constantly being slapped-down by a society which their humility forbids them to criticize," and, on Norman Mailer's Advertisements for Myself (1959): "The Hipster, in brief, is a man who has divorced himself from history as well as from society; who lives exclusively in the present; who thinks of himself as a white Negro; and whose aim is self-discovery through sexual pleasure, enhanced if need be by the aid of marijuana."

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