Sunday, November 18, 2007

woody allen notes on morality

today's ny times has excerpts from more eric lax interviews with mr. allen. it also has bites from short stories old and new - if you decide to have a look, it may help to have a pocket oxford english dictionary at your fingertips. i have to admit that i still like the way this man's mind works. consider the following sentence, describing a piece of junk mail he receives from a new age goddess:

"There is a fervid endorsement by someone named Pleiades MoonStar — a name that would cause no end of consternation for me if I were told at the last minute it belonged to my brain surgeon or pilot."

i am rather fond of his tangents :-)

in the eric lax selection, allen comments on his well-documented belief that god does not exist:

"People jump to the conclusion that what I'm saying is that anything goes, but actually I'm asking the question: given the worst, how do we carry on, or even why should we choose to carry on? Of course, we don't choose — the choice is hardwired into us. The blood chooses to live. [Laughs.] Please note as I pontificate here, you're interviewing a guy with a deficient denial mechanism. Anyhow, religious people don't want to acknowledge the reality that contradicts their fairy tale."

while i suspect that he may have been traumatised in his youth by either emily dickinson or a negative experience with a rabbi, he is addressing a question in which i have some interest: wtf is the point of it all? or, with a little less melodrama, if god is not at the centre, what is? on what may morality be based? r. hillel is quoted in pirkei avot: in a place where there are no men, strive to be a man. allen says:

"Now, there are plenty of people who choose to lead their lives in a completely self-centered, homicidal way. They feel, Since nothing means anything and I can get away with murder, I'm going to. But one can also make the choice that you're alive and other people are alive and you're in a lifeboat with them and you've got to try and make it as decent as you can for yourself and everybody. And it would seem to me this is so much more moral and even much more "Christian." If you acknowledge the awful truth of human existence and choose to be a decent human being in the face of it rather than lie to yourself that there's going to be some heavenly reward or some punishment, it seems to me more noble."

i don't know for myself how important it is to be noble, but i do find it helpful to have as many reasons as possible to try to be a mensch.

No comments:

Post a Comment