Ideas and the Theatre; Where the artist is the enemy
The program will be a visit to a small planet where the artist is the enemy. The series ideas and the theatre the actual views and voices you will hear authors scholars Geoffrey Wagner and Eric Bentley philosopher Kenneth Burke anthropologist Solon Kimball and playwright Arthur Miller beat all the author Clinton wilder the producer and serial rich are the star and director of the Broadway hit comedy visit to a small planet. Those who make this series possible the University of Minnesota radio station KUNM in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center. And now here is the producer of ideas and the theater. Critic at large Philip go. The artist has been viewed as an outcast. The poet to seen as the sensitive one the author is often the critic. These are acceptable views of the creative individual. But the artist as the enemy.
I suppose the anti intellectuals will accept this right off of course those crazy artists are the enemy. This program a lever is not addressed to those who already agree with the premise. If you think the artist is the enemy at this point your unthinking and your prejudiced. This must be because we haven't even suggested a definition of the enemy. What do we mean by the enemy do we mean that all artists are Russians. Hardly Martians. No anti social perhaps. The ATA seems to be the enemy of any established society. Perhaps it goes even deeper. For example in the novel 1984 is George Orwell really concerned about what may happen to us. Where has he written what he hopes will happen to us. Are the numerous works of art visualizing the future in ugly and pessimistic terms. The warning or the wishful thinking of bitter and
antagonistic artists is the artist out to help us or to destroy us. The latter would certainly qualify him as the enemy. Because of the artist's inability to lead a more normal and ordinary life which I think we can all agree is a very difficult life. Has the artist developed a frustration with key Savvas by dropping his big and little A-bombs his art bombs and a random effort to destroy any vestige of traditional institutions and existing life. Finally of course we must ask does the artist distort the reality and truth. Even he might recognize to achieve his angry ends. A 1956 57 Broadway season offered a hit comedy drama made to order for this discussion. It's the play a visit to a small planet written by Gore Vidal co-produced by Clinton Wilder and directed by its star Sir Richard. We're going to hear from all of the gentlemen shortly but first a brief
word on the appropriateness of a visit to a small planet in terms of this discussion. The play is about a superhuman creature from another planet played by serial retard who visits our earth to destroy it in a playful way of course it's a comedy. I don't know how well this fits our concepts of the artist as the enemy. In this plane superhuman he is irresponsible. He is an involved. He would destroy us. He even comes from outer space. Indeed he is the enemy. Now if I seem to be making the assumption that this is to a small planet central character creature on and its author Garvey towers share the same views it is because I feel this assumption is a logical one. And it also was an assumption that seemed to be assumed by the writer the producer the director and star of the play. Several Richardo put it to me very clearly I think that he
is amused with weaknesses. And suddenly he makes quick talk of the person that is amused I think. I suspect also as I suspect or those who are always young are putting themselves in the saddle Kate and I suspect GL feels that he is really the doctor stirred up all sorts of trouble and say Oh what delicious fun. That was several rich are the star and the director of the hit comedy drama a visit to a small planet. Before we hear from the author of the play and our representative artist anime today I'd like to turn to the co-producer of a visit to a small planet. Mr. Clinton while there I asked Mr. Wilder why he wanted to produce a visit to a small planet in the first place. Clinton Wilders reply. The first thing that struck me about his two small planet was that to me it was vastly amusing and I suppose it was amusing to me.
Because I saw in a. Good deal of. Comment on us on our times and the way we have come to think under the influence of the atomic age the fact that some pretty serious things are said in the play but said with such humor for instance the visitor from outerspace who is a good humored creature and enjoys the characteristics of earth people particularly their savagery in their emotions says of earth people that warfare is the only thing that we do really well. Well in a comedy that sounds like a shocking thing to say and yet in a comedy it is acceptable and I believe makes people think my goodness is it
true. Is that all we do really well. That was Clinton while her co-producer of the Broadway hit comedy visit to a small planet. And now let's hear from the author of the play the artist in question. I first asked the obvious question of Gore how does cretonne view our world and our people and how much is this as krypton and how much is the doubt we could tun of course probably not unlike me as an idiot. However he comes from he's an idiot from the future and an idiot with enormous powers and he regards the essentially as a toy. We are his hobby and he's been studying us at a distance and remove for some time and he's not as decided to come to corps. And I suppose his view of the human race is that we are savages that our present period of development relatively speaking the dark
ages. And being a rather literal man for all his powers and subtleties in some ways he realizes he believes that whatever we do the most is obviously the thing we most want to do. And since the one thing that one might say the human race did particularly well and spent the most time at. It was really most devoted to was war. So it was his hope to start a major war that was down here as a sort of an anthropic gesture. A number of people try to tell him this isn't our primary interest and that is really the argument of the play under all the frolic. And as for whether it represents my view oh I have. I believe that the 20th century is a disgrace and in many ways though each person living at any given time would tell
you that things were better before. I don't think things probably were very much better before in human history but I think the 20th century is curiously distinguished for an ability to murder one another and I rather suspect they'll succeed and that perhaps as they like to say that that visit is a pro-war claim anyone can be anti-war but I'm giving the case why we must do it all the time what is and isn't a delightful thing to do. I think it's a large order destroying the earth and they may not they may fail at it we fail at everything we probably won't succeed really in pulling that off either. But I think we will do our best and I think we will find civilization set back a couple of thousand of years. There is a will to destruction. There is the will to survival in itself is such a strong and such a predatory thing that each day I live in a social way. We displace other life just by the fact of our living. The very
fact that we squeeze the orange juice is in a sense is an aggression upon oranges where there is not too grave. But say in the course of a career somebody is making a way for themselves. Those who hurt feelings and destroy other people's careers. This is a daily thing and we all see it we all take it for granted. We refer to it as the jungle and the jungle it is. I tried to point out to Garvey Dahl that since he offered no alternative to destroying the world as the solution to our problems wasn't it fair to assume that he tore he down wanted to destroy the world. Go read our last reply or the point I suppose that you are coming to is how does one envisage a future society. And we must turn to old Bernard Shaw or someone with a programme
satirists. I suppose we're just directly with what they see and do not feel in any way incumbent to me to describe palliatives for what is wrong. I would suppose in the past I think we all betrayed deep down inside a particular bent. I am interested in such things as an exercise of power. I suppose power in many ways has been a recurrent theme of mine and since I'm one of those people who feels deep down inside and no problem the world he couldn't have given the opportunity which is kind of idiotic intensity which drives one to write. I suppose I would fall into the trap which most writers have a fairly thoughtful temperament do which is a form of benevolent Tharon it would
work. It of course never has for any length of time and writers have tended toward this thing because the writers always see themselves as a chief of state and of course nobody else has ever seen a writer's chief of state and never will. And what is worse right is given a task like this with Powell I know I should be calendula to my use the word power before I meant just simply the FA niggling in the chicanery and the uses and abuses of power as an exercise in political or intellectual way. In discussing the topic of the artist as the enemy Garvey doll whom you just heard is an easy one to pick on primarily because of his honesty. Unlike Mr V doll it is hard to imagine such writers as Orwell Elliot Hemingway and others admitting to a primary concern with power and a benevolent tyranny in which the writer would be the tyrant.
Even though one cannot avoid the suspicion that such artist may be more power and self centered and the outspoken Mr Reed are here then is the vision of the artist as the enemy. But is it necessarily a frightening vision. Well I believe it is and not because the artist may want to take over or because he is angry and critical or perhaps even revengeful. And I believe the picture of the artist as the enemy here exemplified by Mr. the doll in his play visit to a small planet is frightening because it persistently presents a view of life that is at its best only partially true and consistently one sided. What is this limited view. Remember these concepts stated by Gore v Don that life is a jungle warfare is what we do best. We live in a dark age people are
selfish and savage. When our world such as this might well merit tyranny or destruction. But it's not just Mr. veto. In fact he's comparatively easy on people. The phrase the artist is the enemy. Particularly as it relates to this dismal and one sided view of life. It stems from a recent book by Jeffrey Wagner. Mr. Wagner's book is entitled Wyndham Lewis and subtitled A Portrait of the artist as the enemy. Well here now is author teacher Geoffrey Wagner to comment not only on the modern artist enemies unrelenting view of our modern world but particularly upon the kind of heroic people that inhabit this savage world. Mr. Geoffrey Wagner. A student in one of my classes the other day I was talking about Hemingway being a realist and he said how is Hemingway a realist because most of the stories by Hemingway I read about
are are about nymphomaniacs and the generous and so forth. How can he be realistic. I had to review a whole lot of these little magazine anthologies for the Saturday Review recently and after I'd read that I said several thousand pages of them I began to think that this is becoming a sort of dogma that the villains in all these stories were well already figures such as policemen always come out bad in American fiction and park attendants always come out badly. Hospital nurses and hospital attendants. Anybody who represents the status quo is usually a violent vicious and degenerate kind of character often home a six year old sometimes amputated. Sometimes idiot or impotent he or she seems to be a symbol of a revote in fact I believe this new San Francisco school you know and Howell and so forth. Yes I haven't looked into it but I believe that they
even actually championed homosexuality as a kind of means of expression against society which seems to me absolutely fantastic. What about these deviants who a bombed and modern literature as described here by Jeffrey Wagner and one of the far more average and ordinary people come out as stupid and savage inhabitants of a jungle in the world of Gore v. Dahl and many other artists. If you remember the last question I put forth at the beginning of this program and I think the most significant question in evaluating the artist as the enemy was does the artist distort. Does he change the reality and truth. Even he might recognize to achieve his angry ends. Is it possible that Carson McCullers and Tennessee Williams are unaware of the fact that not one out of thousands of people will be a nymphomaniac or ever encounter the specie except in art forms. Doesn't go out of the dollar really know that
999 out of a thousand of our day to day activities and institutions ranging from the traffic light to the family through work and play in law abiding and love making are almost totally of a cooperative and compromising nature. And why this maligning of the jungle jungle operates by very measurable rules and regularities. Once these are known the real jungle is a comparatively safe place. All romantic even sentimental need to see the jungle as chaotic and terrible goes hand in hand with the even more sentimental urge to see a highly disciplined cooperative patterned interdependent society as savage. In fact our society has become so noncompetitive at the one area which Mr Beadle pointed out along with the squeezing of more aggression upon Orange is the area of furthering one's career at the cost of others
supposedly even here today personnel and management put at the very top of their list of qualifications in Job competition. The ability to cooperate to get along with others in short to be non competitive. Even in war the thing we supposedly do best. Here we accept discipline and we act cooperatively. But most of our lives despite Mr. Diaz observation are spent not hat war but in peace. And the thing we obviously do best is to work together. Think of how many of your daily activities from the food on your table to your transportation education recreation you name it assumes a trust and others these daily things occur only because you know others will cooperate. The food will be grown and delivered the bus driver will go his appointed way. A teacher will be in school. Even the bitter competitive rivals will play by the rules and the juvenile delinquent wants to belong to his group. Even
those crazy women drivers will drive on the right side of the road. At least some of the time. Others can be and are trusted. At least a hundred times a day and this real world is interdependent civilized world that very much exists is very hard to find in the arts. My thesis here then is that the artist is the enemy. By being such a stranger to the world in which he lives. Now the growth of the dollar and other artist enemies insist upon seeing and depicting a savage and competitive society which I suspect they must do if their dramas to be dramatic. What value was their work. Aren't their distortions doing more harm than good. For some answers I'd like to have you listen again to several statements and authorities that you heard on earlier programs in this series. First of all social
anthropologist Solon big Kimball. The artist himself may be in a position that unable to grasp the horror of war. Which was much more easily accomplished when society was much less complex that the part which he portrays can be a distortion of the whole even though it may be a true portrayal of the tiny part with which he is dealing. That was social anthropologist Solon B Kimball Next I'd like to have you here again some words by social philosopher Kenneth Burke. Any time you were brought up late they lash out not in a society you set this condition for a yeah for an arch which for a drama which can get its appeal precisely by violating that thou shalt not that isn't a does divide the SAGs if you say Thou shalt not steal
that then you gotta drown on somebody stealing I shall not kill you got aground on a murder if you say Thou shalt not. What would happen if that's the fundamental principle act and I think that's that sound in a way in the sense that I think that art then does to liberalize our society because if it weren't for that quality would work for lead to that wonderful out or worse twist whereby Otherwise I think we would just get so clamped down we couldn't budget and leave the whole structure we just wages down like a bunch of a lot of trunks. But but because of this fact that you cannot finally keep people entertained except by and by imagining the end of breakdown of the yet from the very structure that they're leavened by and asking every 111 What if someone there is a liberalizing there which I think but less. Thank God for I think that stuff slips out a lot. We really would just become a bunch of ants the without a single action of movement
possible. That was social philosopher Kenneth Burke author of permanence and change the philosophy of literary form and many other outstanding books. Next as to the relationship of the artist in terms of his negative stories I like to have you hear from a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Mr. Arthur Miller. Not only drama but literature in general and this goes back a long long distance and history posits the idea of value right and wrong good and bad high and low not so much by setting them forth setting forth these values as such but of showing sort of speak. The wages of sin in other words by showing what happens when there are no values. I at least assume that the audience will
be compiled and pro power toward a more intense quest for values that I'm missing. I'm assuming always we have a kind of civilized sharing of what we would like to see a car with in this and in the world. And I think that the drama is not so much an attack but an exposition of the want. Which you can only do if the audience itself is constantly trying to supply what is missing. That was the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Arthur Miller. For additional comments on the role of the artist even though he may be very negative and one sided here is Eric Bentley a Brander Matthews professor of dramatic literature at Columbia University and outstanding critic and scholar of the theater Mr. Eric Bentley.
Although I suppose strictly speaking if we got to be accurate opposition is a negative thing. I feel like saying that it isn't because I know it's connected with much that is positive I don't think that any great artist of opposition and a great revolutionary artist and the artist who has lost out in his books like Tolstoy in his book resurrection or showing Mrs. Warren's Profession could do that so well except for his own positive philosophy I don't think this is done by cynics what is people with no positive side to them. I think there's a very strong positive element behind real what you might call creative rebellion the kind of rebellion we have and the theatre I did best. There are really only a few things to remember from our discussion today. First despite our modern artists willingness even eagerness to avoid depicting such realities as duty and responsibility routine and compromise
cooperation and interdependence. All of these still are realities. In fact as a society we are so unbelievably interdependent that when just three hundred men fail to report to work in New York City in the winter of one thousand fifty seven four and a half million people were directly disrupted the economy altered and untold malfunctions occurred in many activities throughout the world. Why. Three hundred subway motormen didn't go to work in New York City. Is it any wonder we need Do-It-Yourself activities and to gun defiant TV cowboys Eagles centered psychologies and visits to small planets. All of these assure us they may not be true completely but they assure us that there is still some room for the poor individual. And the romantic concept of individual ism.
And so we find that most sentimental of individualists the artists like the criminal. Invariably starting from a state of being forced to be an individual a state of being left out or bored. In either case he wants to start trouble or get even. He thus becomes the enemy of the established order. Unlike the criminal however the artist approaches his task within the socially approved framework. The art itself. This leads us to our second area of conclusions. If we will keep in mind the role of the artist as an entertainer the role of the Artist as a release and relief from our highly patterned and disciplined society if we will think of the artist as facing the problems of man and mankind. And trying to solve them in a direct and yet nonviolent way.
And I think we will understand that it is not a question of can we tolerate the artist as the enemy. It is a question of can we tolerate existence without him. It is primarily pro entertainment and anti boredom. Art has been the world's oldest and I believe most successful form of catharsis and of nonviolent problem solving an age where violence may be synonymous with total destruction. I believe all forms of letting off steam and particularly of nonviolent problem solving are to be encouraged and increased. If you allow artist friend or enemy genius or idiot the world must be made civilized enough for all of us. That was the producer and commentator for this series Philip go critic at large.
- Ideas and the Theatre
- Where the artist is the enemy
- Producing Organization
- University of Minnesota
- KUOM (Radio station : Minneapolis, Minn.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- This program, "Where the Artist is the Enemy," analyzes Gore Vidal's play, "Visit to a Small Planet."
- Other Description
- The series presents a discussion of the current American theatre; its values, beliefs, patterns, and problems. Participants include Arthur Miller, Eric Bentley, Gore Vidal, Brooks Atkinson, Cyril Ritchard, Clinton Wilder, Tennessee Williams, and others.
- Broadcast Date
- Media type
Guest: Miller, Arthur, 1915-2005
Guest: Burke, Kenneth, 1897-1993
Guest: Kimball, Solon Toothaker
Guest: Vidal, Gore, 1925-2012
Guest: Ritchard, Cyril, 1897-1977
Guest: Wilder, Clinton, 1920-1986
Guest: Wagner, Jeffrey
Host: Kerwin, Jonathan W.
Producer: Gelb, Philip
Producing Organization: University of Minnesota
Producing Organization: KUOM (Radio station : Minneapolis, Minn.)
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 58-7-12 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- MLA: “Ideas and the Theatre; Where the artist is the enemy.” 1958-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 20, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-p843w82p>.
- APA: Ideas and the Theatre; Where the artist is the enemy. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-p843w82p