All The More Reason


Judging Arthur Miller
August 18, 2007, 5:45 pm
Filed under: Arthur Miller

A certain Suzanna Andrews decides to judge self–righteously Arthur Miller in this barf piece in Vanity Fair. The article is about a son he had who was born with Down syndrome and put in an institution. What I found most interesting about the piece was not only her willingness to judge the man by our standards today on treating children with disabilities, but also by the current vogue of public confessions and public consciousness. In other words, if a feeling is not admitted to the public (especially if one is a celebrity) then it’s an open debate as to whether the individual has that feeling at all. This idea is wedged so thickly inbetween the ears of writers like Andrews that she barely pays homage to the idea that Miller may have been decidedly private about certain matters and not necessarily out of shame.

For example, in the piece she mentions that Miller does not write about his son in his memoirs. Is it not possible that someone like Miller would have felt it unjust to bring so much attention to his disabled son? Surely a public acknowledgement of his son would not only have brought the likes of Andrews to interview Daniel but could also draw leeches who would use him to try and pawn off the old man.

I could quote almost any paragraph from this piece to demonstrate the false high–mindedness of this writer but I find I almost can’t bear to reproduce her work in any vain. Still, here’s one example of her style:

It would be easy to judge Arthur Miller harshly, and some do. For them, he was a hypocrite, a weak and narcissistic man who used the press and the power of his celebrity to perpetuate a cruel lie. But Miller’s behavior also raises more complicated questions about the relationship between his life and his art. A writer, used to being in control of narratives, Miller excised a central character who didn’t fit the plot of his life as he wanted it to be. Whether he was motivated by shame, selfishness, or fear—or, more likely, all three—Miller’s failure to tackle the truth created a hole in the heart of his story. What that cost him as a writer is hard to say now, but he never wrote anything approaching greatness after Daniel’s birth. One wonders if, in his relationship with Daniel, Miller was sitting on his greatest unwritten play.

So not only is Miller guilty of not being a good father to his son with Down syndrome, but also for not using his son as motivation as a writer! Also, the tactless and faceless charge of “some” who judge him harshly – would that include the author? Because “some” think Suzanna Andrews is a buffoon who sees the world in an infantile manner; and that some would include me. I will say this: I don’t know the story of Arthur Miller and frankly don’t know his work very well either. That being said, anyone who tries to pull a reader not only to the smear trough but also to dunk them right in it usually draws more attention to themselves than to their target. At least for me…

J.S.

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1 Comment so far
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I think Arthur Miller was a very lucky man in many many ways, also I enjoy this blog and wondered if readers of this would be interested in visiting my blog which is still relatively new and is called ‘An Unrepentant Communist’ Warm greetings to you all from Ireland…
http://unrepentantcommunist.blogspot.com/

Comment by Gabriel




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