|The Nossiter Net
The net that shall enmesh them all
Edited, Written, and Published by Josh Nossiter
|Not to Praise Pinter
Friday, December 26th 2008
|The Nossiter Net is cast to snare some of the riper rascalities of the day. Comments? Send a letter to the editor.|
|How to win a Nobel prize, the Legion d'honneur, fame, acclaim, and fortune as a writer? If you were Harold Pinter, the technique was quite simple. Assemble a cast of repulsive people. String together obscenities and vulgarisms for dialogue. Throw in a fight, a shooting, or some other random act of violence. Stir lightly, add a dollop of pretension, and voila. Theatrical success is assured.
Shakespeare took some of the same elements and made poetry, but then he was a poet. And for even his foulest characters, Shakespeare made us care. Pinter's people always prompt the wish that somebody would kill them instantly, putting them, and their audiences, out of their misery. In play after play Pinter plumbed the depths of human degradation and added to it. He examined the dark places of the soul and sullied them. He combined vileness with noise and succeeded in producing boredom time after time.
One of his biggest hits, The Birthday Party, consists of characters you'd cross the street to avoid alternately shouting obscenely and pawing at each other for six hours. At least it feels like six hours. And who but Pinter could have redefined tedium so agonizingly as he did in such film scripts as The French Lieutenants Woman and The Go-Between?
His politics strove to be as laughable as his prose. He denounced George Bush as another Hitler, all the while staunchly supporting Fidel Castro's Cuban police state. For many who consider the Bush years one of the lowest points in American history, Pinter's opinion of the president forced at least a momentary reassessment.
Worse than his plays, his politics, his prose, and his films was his poetry. Worse by far. Take one of his best known poems, American Football. Please. Quoting a stanza at random captures the essence of Pinter writing at very apex of his skill: It works/ We blew the shit out of them/ They suffocated in their own shit! Another masterpiece is The Message. From the opening stanza: He said to tell you he was fine,/ Only the crap, he said, you know, it sticks,/ The crap you have to fight./ You're sometimes nothing but a walking shithouse. Perhaps he would have been a different writer had he purged himself regularly.
Still, he is dead now. De mortuis and so on. Or to quote a different species of writer entirely, " Nothing in his life/ Became him like the leaving it.".
©Joshua C. Nossiter, 2008
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A NOTE TO READERS ***Update***
Another three week plus hiatus, from April 30th until May 23rd, again due to Yahoo Geocities dismal service.
There was nothing new at The Nossiter Net between March 3rd and April 26th, 2007, nearly eight weeks. The reason: tech sabotage. Yahoo Geocities, the host for this site, denied access for the entire period. At one point, they even managed to lose all the files. In many discussions with Yahoo staff, no clear explanation was forthcoming. No one seemed able to fix the problem. Ruling out the possibility of Dubbya’s revenge, I finally wrote to Mr. Terry Semel, Chairman and CEO of Yahoo! Inc and described the ordeal the page had undergone since the beginning of March. A week later, a helpful Yahooo engineer named Jason called. He had my letter before him. Though he couldn’t do the repairs on on the spot, he promised a fix by the next day. That was April 26th, nearly two months after shutting me down in the first place.
The Nossiter Net apologizes, which is more than I can say for Yahoo Geocities.
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