Dasein, Red Elephant.

Mamet’s Wicked Son


The New York Times reviews David Mamet’s The Wicked Son: Anti-Semitism, Self-Hatred and the Jews. I honestly haven’t seen his film Homicide and so I’m not too convinced about the reviewer’s comments. Still, an interesting book to check out.


But there was a slight problem with Mamet’s Jews: They were unrecognizable. Their anxieties seemed from an earlier era. They belonged to no real place, just one of Mamet’s Hopperish lonely cities. They spoke Mamet-speak, which is to say, a language so hyperreal that it sometimes sounded quite unreal. They were, in fact, contrivances, created to highlight Mamet’s hobgoblins and hobbyhorses. One encounters the same schism, and the same ambivalence, in “The Wicked Son,” Mamet’s examination of the modern Jewish psyche. Like everything he does, it is blunt and bracing, honest and provocative, original and gutsy. At the same time, it’s not exactly clear which Jews Mamet is talking about, what decade they live in, how fairly he treats them or even how many of them there are.


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  1. The Wicked Son is a didactic exercise
    that explores the parameters of the lost and disappearing Jew that is more interested in the Democratice Party, the Green Party, The Red Book, Socialism, exotic religions and cults. The baby boomers, the Jew who grew up in the 60’s whose children may have a Bar or Bat Mitzvahs. somewhat excessive, but most of whom (the children) are no longer at the Passover meal.

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 6 months ago
  2. * dr. martin bierbaum says:

    Mamet provides us with an interesting quick read. The problem I had with it though is his failure to leave Jews with any criteria by which we might judge whether Israel or Zionism steps over the proverbial line. Is it simply tribal loyalty to which we are expected to adhere?

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 6 months ago
  3. What he is saying is that you can not escape your tribe. You have been under attack, and always will be and you have only each other to depend on. Zionism is a survival tactic. If the world did not despise the Jews there would be no need of Zionism. I think he feels you cannot afford schisms when your very survival is at stake. When the world is looking at Jews as evil incarnate, Jews themselves should not play into their game.

    Since I, as a gentile depend on the existence of Jews to raise me above barbarity, I will continue to support Israel. Although I am a conservative and generally am against everything the ACLU and Jewish liberals stand for, I still recognize that they are better and more humane than I will ever be. I need them in opposition to myself to remain civilized. The very fact that Jews engage in continual self examination, as exhibited by your comment, Dr Bierbaum, proves this.

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 5 months ago
  4. * Lichanos says:

    Why must we belong to a tribe? Don’t we have the right, here in the USA, to discard or reject our heritage if we choose to? You cannot deny your heritage, but you CAN reject it!

    I am an atheist, I consider myself a Jew, but I have virtually no interest in Jewish life. I don’t think that Jews are better or more humane than others by virtue of some special characteristic, although I do believe that liberal Jewish culture, which Miss Carniverous despises, DOES tend to make people that are better by my criteria (tolerance, open mindedness,etc.)

    I think Israel has the right to exist just as any other state does, despite whatever injustices may have been part of its founding (consider our own history!) Having said that does not justify everything that the Israeli government does – it simply recognizes its legitimate rights. Its adversaries have rights too.

    Why must ALL Jews be anguished over the survival of the Jewish tribe? If in 300 years, all Jews outside of Israel have assimilated and lost their culture, yes, that would be a loss, and all losses have their sadness, but that’s history folks. I don’t see it as my responsibility to carry on the tradition because I’m not interested. If I believed in God, I’d probably feel differently, but since I don’t, and since I don’t feel a strong affinity for Yiddish culture, that’s the way it goes.

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 5 months ago
  5. * Joe says:

    Try SWAP by Sam Moffie. Something funny and new in fiction.

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 5 months ago
  6. * Bruce Josloff says:

    Linchanos says “I think Israel has the right to exist just as any other state does….” This is very magnanimous of Linchanos. Would he also say “I think France as a right to exist, or that Britain has the right to exist?” It is profoundly discomforting that “I think” is posited with regard to a Jewish State whose territorial expansion was in response to a mortal attack on 200 kilometers of coastal terrain inhabitated by survivors of the Holocaust; an invasion in historical fact, fueled by rabid antisemitic Post WWII Nazi propaganda that was and continues to be inflamed and promulgated by Reich inspired Arab Nationalism and Islamic theory.

    “I think” is subject to debate. Perhaps the right of Luchanos to survive and thrive is also subject to debate?

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 4 months ago

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