Saturday, May 26, 2012
New York 1
May 25, 2012
Nineteenth floor of the Paramount Hotel, looking out over rooftops, against the sides of soaring giants, and out onto a space of 8th Avenue. I am glad to have a view of whatever kind. The windows open to the roar from the street, which I find comforting rather than otherwise. Helped a young German couple make their way from Newark. They stopped me and said, "We want to go to the Island of Manhattan." Sweet. Turns out they didn’t want that at all, but rather to get to their hotel in Long Island City, which Google had suggested to them was the same place as Manhattan. Few mishaps arriving. We were warned of a delay which turned out to be five or ten minutes.
Midnight. Went to the Irish Rep on 22nd to see an excellent reading of Shaw’s Man and Superman. On the advice of the ticket lady I had drinks on the sidewalk in front of Baresco’s around the corner on 7th Avenue. Sat drinking prosecco in the clear evening light while tout le monde passed by. I knew two of the actors in the play, which was nice, but also a little creepy. The production was impeccable; the play, however, lingers in disturbing ways. I wanted to say simply that Shaw is altogether too clever, but that scarcely covers the issue. There is not a moment in which the playwright is not showing off. Not one character is actually a character, but all aspects of a single, many-faceted, yet still oddly dogmatic, personality. Shaw is pleased with his ability to argue both sides of a question, and-- like Socrates-- thinks it a triumph to bring a discourse to an unresolvable dead end, which proves his wit but does nothing to further the cause of understanding. The play’s argument is precious when it is not specious, and slips so successfully from every firm place that there is no way to take it to task, no way to correct it, and the attempt to do so makes one seem a fuddy-duddly not fully in on the fun. Shaw’s fountainhead is Wilde. He has less soul than Wilde, and his cleverness illuminates primarily itself. George Bernard Shaw is the smartest person who ever lived who had really no idea of how the world works.
Come-on from the whores on 7th Avenue as I strode home. The Paul Simon tune was in my head.
Noise on the street. I was not ready to come home, slamming down vodka tonics to resign myself to bed.