Knight Of The Mind

I'll do my best to present a philosophical and generally conservative look at current events and life, the universe and everything. Readers are invited to take all that's posted herein with a grain of salt. or if they prefer, a grain of salt, a slice of lime and a shot of tequila.

Location: Alexandria, Virginia, United States

Greetings and welcome. My name is Steve, I'm 35 years old and I work for the US Army as an Operations Research Analyst. Hence my blog title Knight Of The Mind.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

A Sad Song Ends - Arthur Miller, RIP

The Sping Semester of 10th Grade English brought The Death Of A Salesman, by Arthur Miller, into my life. Miller saw the world in a different way than I had been raised to. I remember reading this play and thinking Willy Loman should have changed the beneficiary line of his policy and not reading too much into the ending other than that.

It took a few of the profound disappointments of adulthood to really understand why Death Of A Salesman was a masterpiece. Until someone has lost a job or two, lost a woman or two and had a member of their family completely let them down, they just don't really get Willy Loman.

When Arthur Miller sought to personify mediocrity, pessimism and mid-life despair, he developed the character Willy Loman. Loman became a symbol of the failed man. The person who reaches a level of incompetence and then loses his aim and sense of morality. Loman's failure reached his core and although Willy Loman worked for years,he had nothing left to give his family better than his life insurance.

It was this profound symbolism that expressed so many people's disenchantment with the burdgeoning wealth and decaying spirit of post World War II America. Arthur Miller was the voice of the counterculture before it became unwashed, undignified and aliterate. He leveled vituperation upon the society he saw around him, but always managed to wear a velvet glove while he back-handed the morals of his age.

As a rank amatuer at writing myself, I am at awe of how Miller viewed his protagonist as a character. Miller was obviously disgusted by Willy Loman as a human being, but at the same time, I got the sense he would have bought Loman a drink and done everything in his power to cheer this beaten man up and send him home with at least something to live for tommorrow. Arthur Miller could tell a story about a failure, because he felt honest compassion for the man.

When I think about Miller's masterpiece now, I'm reminded of EdwinArlington Robinson,aturn of the century American poet who had the same awesome capacity to loathe the failures that plague the hman race, but to still love the people who suffer from them. For Robinson to compose "Richard Cory" or "Miniver Cheevy" took a certain genius. For Miller to write the entire five acts of Death of A Salesman required a super-human stamina.

When Vaclav Havel, Harold Pinter and Salmon Rushdie mourn Arthur Miller's passing, they should also stop to ponder on his decency and compassion. A lot public figures will glibly drop the biblical passage "Love the sinner, hate the sin."
Arthur Miller very nearly obtained this lofty moral goal via his character Willy Loman in Death Of A Salesman.


As you may or may not already be aware, members of the Watcher's Council hold a vote every week on what they consider to be the most link-worthy pieces of writing around... per the Watcher's instructions, I am submitting one of my own posts for consideration in the upcoming nominations process.
Here is the most recent winning council post, here is the most recent winning non-council post, here is the list of results for the latest vote, and here is the initial posting of all the nominees that were voted on.

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